sad day for Iraq

Dr. Riham Yaqoob was assassinate by unidentified assailants on Wednesday. Her death followed that of another activist on Friday when caused citizens to take to the street in protest. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi dismissed Basra’s chief of police and other security officials in response to the killings.

hail Xi Jinping!

Chinese church leaders, in state approved churches, have been order to either praise the communist party and Xi Jinping or are not allowed to re-open.

May we suggest a few sermon topics for these church leaders? How about dominion belongs to the LORD and He rules over the nations, including communist China with its leader? Mybe Isaiah 40:17-18, how before Him all the nations are as nothing? Or perhaps Ezekiel 14:13-18? if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men – Noah, Daniel and Job – were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness,’ declares the Sovereign Lord. . . . ‘Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, ‘Let the sword pass throughout the land,’ and I kill its men and their animals, as surely as I live,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.

Plenty of material in the Old and New Testament to show the place that Xi Jinping occupies in the grand scheme of things – certainly he is included with others in ‘every knee shall bow.’

While this may not be what the communist party had in mind with its directives, there is plenty of material in the scriptures that it is not just Western leaders of ‘christendom’ who are ruled by the Sovereign Lord of History.

Preaching about national affairs, as ordered, ought not to be a problem as the Old Testament contains plenty of material. The prophets have a great deal to say about nations. China and Xi Jinping are certainly just modern examples of past nations where rulers thought they were supreme. It ought not to be too difficult to find instances of the United States falling short of God’s standards either (Psalm 33:12-19).

As to Chinese cultural traditions? “Daoism” is one of the great traditional religions of China. It is concerned principally with the reign of heaven Heaven’s will is a Chinese political and religious teaching that was used in ancient China to justify the rule of the King or Emperor of China. Heaven, or Tian 天, bestows leadership.

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords knows that Xi Jinping is ruling China, even if Xi Jinping doesn’t know to whom he will answer.

In 2018 the government of China declared there were 44 million Christians in China. If the underground churches are included, the number is closer to 80 million. This means there are probably more faithful Christians in China than the US. Consider this, only 23 percent of people who claim to be Christians in the US attend assembly each week which would be about 55 million people. By 2030, there will likely be 247 million Christians in China.

The underground church is growing in China. The government has an official five year plan issued nit 2018 which calls for inserting “patriotic education” and “socialist core values” into churches, revising the Bible and using church sermons to enforce party leadership and reject foreign influences, killing some for organ harvest, targeting children (banned Sunday school), renouncing Christianity, revere Xi Jinping, and retranslating and annotating the bible.

Here are examples from the “new” version of the bible. The first commandment reads, “Thou shall have no other gods before me, except as required by Chinese law.” How about, “Thou shall not kill, unless thou are killing rightest, counterrevolutionaries, running dogs, separatists, religious extremists, hostile foreign forces, etc. The New Testament has also been revised.

You might want to be proactive and memorize scripture, unless you don’t care about the rise of China. Meanwhile, remember the Lord is in charge.

Algorithms to Live By

It’s not often we recommend a book, but this is useful one called Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. It was written by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths.

This book takes powerful lessons from computer science and explains how they can be useful for regular humans. I don’t want to ruin the book for you, but here are a few gems: 1) older people take longer to retrieve information from memory, not because they are getting senile, but because they have more stored, 2) piles are the most efficient way to store the paperwork on your desk, 3) there is an optimal time to search for an apartment or mate before taking the plunge. I am not giving the rest of the book away, but it is really interesting and insightful.

Lament for Beirut

Beirut is one of the oldest cities in the world, it has been inhabited for more than 5000 years. It is the seat of government in Lebanon. The blast devastated neighborhoods and impacted half the city. Ammonium nitrate, 2,750 tons, exploded near the port and caused mass casualties. Emergency workers are still searching for survivors. A 2012 study found that 40 percent of the population of Beirut is Christian. Christianity in Lebanon is nearly as old as the faith itself. Paul preached in Lebanon, having lingered with the early Christians in Tyre and Sidon. Maybe you know the place as home of Phoenicians. Luke 10:1-42 mentions the place.

Hinduism – on steroids

Mahatma Ghandhi, as you might recall, said “I like your Christ, but not your Christianity.” I like your Christ, but not your Christianity.” He was noting the failure of the West in living up to the teaching of Jesus Christ.  God forgive us that our two major politic parties seem to be the parties of lust and greed.

Ghandhi was assassinated by an advocated for Hindu Nationalism, Nathuram Godse.  Godse has been a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).  Godse’s chief gripe against Ghandi was being too accommodating to Muslims during the partition of India.  The goal here is not to focus on Ghandhi but on the RSS.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh literally means “national volunteer organization.”  It was founded in 1925 and had six million members by 2014. RSS supports Hindu nationalism.  It has been described as almost fascist in the classical sense. 

The cabinet of the first prime minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru banned the Hindutva ideology-based RSS after Ghandhi’s assassination.  It was banned again under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.  But in 2014, RSS member Narendra Modi was elected Prime Minster of India. He was elected a second time by a landslide in 2019.  Since his election, RSS membership has increased by 20 percent. 

Anyone who leads others away from Hinduism is targeted with imputing by the RSS.  Social media reports on Christian missionary activity across the nation. In 2017, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ranked India’s persecution severity at “Tier 2” along with Iraq and Afghanistan. As of 2020, USCIRF placed India as Tier-1 in minority persecution along with countries like North Korea and Pakistan.

Within the decade, India will be the most populous nation on earth. Pray for the Christians in India as they carry on the mission of seeking and saving the lost.

Bangladesh

The nation of Bangladesh may be headed toward a humanitarian disaster as a third of the nation is already under water and more is on the way. The UN believes the nation is facing its most prolonged flooding since 1988.

That the nation has been locked down for the past four months due to COVID 19 means a third of the nation is under its poverty line.

sounds like Mexico

What if you heard that a gunman dressed as a delivery person entered the home of a judge and opened fired, killing the judge’s only child, her 20 year old son, and sending her husband to the hospital in critical condition. Would you think this happened in a narco-state?

It happened in New Jersey and the gunman was dressed as a FedEx driver. The Latina judge was U.S. District Court of New Jersey’s Esther Salas. Her husband is a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor. The father and son opened the door to the shooter, while she was elsewhere in the home.

In 2018, Judge Salas sentenced 33 year old Farad Roland to 45 years in prison on federal racketeering charges. Roland was leader of the South Side Cartel, one of Newark’s most violent street gangs, a branch of the Bloods. Roland Roland admitted his role in five murders, an armed carjacking, an armed robbery of a drug dealer, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon, and drug conspiracy. Judge Salas barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty for Roland, ruling the man’s intellectual disability made him ineligible for capital punishment.

More recently she was appointed to hear an ongoing lawsuit brought by Deutsche Bank investors who claim the company made false and misleading statements about its anti-money laundering policies and didn’t monitor “high-risk” customers Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender. Deutsche Bankagreed to pay a $150 million fine for continuing to work with Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting underage prostitutes in 2008.

The press says the shooter was a 72 year old lawyer by the name of Roy Den Hollander. His body was found in a car in a secluded, dead-end street that is part of a campsite in Rockland in Sullivan County, New York. This is 148 miles from the Judges home. His supposed motive according to the press is his anti-feminist bent. Den Hollander, a lawyer based in New York, had a case pending before Salas regarding the U.S. Military’s male-only draft registration system on the grounds it “discriminates against both sexes in violation of Equal Protection as incorporated into the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” The New York Times says, according to an an unnamed law enforcement source, a package addressed to Judge Salas was found near the suspect’s car.

Hollander’s resume is that he has an MBA from Columbia with honors and a J.D from George Washington University Law School with high honors. Does this seem like the CV for a man who would dress up as a FedEx employee to assassinate a federal judge? Or is this sort of suicide as Jeffrey Epsteins?

The last person to testify in high profile case of sexual abuse of young woman was Rachael Denhollander. The first to accuse Nassar of sexual assault, she delivered the final victim impact statement at the trial. Nassar groomed young women for abuse from his position as an authority figure in gymnastics. Did we mention that Rachel is a lawyer now?

Rachel Denhollander had this to say, “Only in the Christian faith do we have a God who unfailingly loves enough to always bring justice, but also unfailingly loves enough to take that justice upon Himself to make forgiveness possible… When my innocence was stolen as a young child, twice over, God saw that damage, and He said, ‘This is evil, and it matters to me.’ What happened to me matters, and it is seen, and it is heard, and someone cares, when no one else did.” Her husband is Jacob Denhollander, a transplanted Canadian is studying for the ministry.

Judge Esther Salas’s son was planning on following his mother into a career in the service of justice, inspired by his Christian faith.

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Outside our box

In east Africa, the region is suffering from torrential rains with flooding, swarms of locusts and the corona virus lockdown.  Border closures have made getting pesticides to fight the locusts scarce.  Floods have forced over a million people to flee from their homes. Food is in short supply. 

Meanwhile in central Asia police states are expanding with an app called STOP COVID-19. In theory of course these apps are intended to slow the spread of the virus, but in reality, apps can and are being used to trace people.   The STOP COVID-19 app has the ability to listen to phone conversations, monitor data usage, and even take over the phone.  People in Kyrgyz are being pressured to install the app. 

China has cracked down on Hong Kong, taking away what was left of its semiautonomous status which was supposed to last for 50 years after the British turned the city over to China in 1997. In case you didn’t know, Great Britain got Hong Kong Island from China in 1842, when the Treaty of Nanking was signed at the end of the first Opium War (1839-42).  Now on account of China’s actions toward the city, the UK has offered the nearly 3 million residents of Hong British national overseas citizenship status (BNO) the right to settle in the UK. China wasn’t pleased.

In Mexico, a dozen armed men fired 150 rounds at the armored car of García Harfuch, chief of police. Three people, including two of his body guards died in the attack. Harfuch survived his gun shot wounds and tweeted from his hospital bed, “Our Nation has to continue confronting cowardly organized crime.”  Heroin and the synthetic opioid fentanyl continue to cross the border into the US, leading to an increase in overdose deaths. The cartels are branding themselves as helping the poor during the pandemic, passing out food and supplies with labels like “Gulf Cartel.”

Just a few things to think about if the nightly US news talking about face masks is numbing your senses.

Hisham al-Hashimi

Hisham al-Hashimi was an expert on armed groups in Iraq. He advised governments and spoke in the media.  He was assassinated near his home Baghdad.  He had death threats against him from Hezbollah and ISIS.

Four men on motorcycles surrounded his car when he pulled up to his house. One of the men approached his vehicle and started shooting. There is CCTV footage of the shooting. The gunman got back on his motorcycle and drove off.

Hisham was an expert but he appears to have done what countless others have done under the same circumstances.  He didn’t turn his vehicle into a weapon and run over the man with the gun approaching his vehicle.  There is a book on detail driving that includes an analysis of many incidents and something that happens repeatedly is drivers fail to get out of the kill zone.

The bad guys knew where Hisham lived. They knew when he would be coming home. They had surveillance data on him. 

Consider taking a driving course that would teach you how to react in such an unfortunate event.  They silenced Hisham, but the people of Iraq will continue working towards a stable society – they have been at this far longer than most other people on the planet.