Category archives: Misc.

Dancing for Joy at 106 and “Loving Jesus Christ”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 23, 2016

A 106 year-old black woman has made international news for her unguarded joy at meeting the President.

Virginia McLaurin, who was born during the administration of William Howard Taft, fulfilled a dream in meeting the nation’s first African-American chief executive.

A black president,” she exclaimed, “and his black wife!” Mrs. McLaurin ran/danced as she saw the President and Mrs. Obama. The First Couple, moved and delighted, were most gracious to this dear woman.

As reported by a local NBC affiliate, “In her 104 years, Mrs. McLaurin worked as a housekeeper, nanny and seamstress. She first married at 14 and was widowed at 17.”

For the past 20 years, she has “been volunteering as a foster grandparent” to special needs children at Sharpe Health School in Washington, D.C.“‘I love the kids,’ she says. ‘You ought to hear them in the morning when I come in and they say, “Grandma! Grandma!” and I say, “I’m here, I’m here”.’”

In 2014, she wrote Mr. Obama, “I’ve never met a President. I didn’t think I would live to see a Colored President because I was born in the South and didn’t think it would happen. I am so happy and I would love to meet you and your family if I could. I remember the times before President Hoover. I remember when we didn’t have any electricity. I had a kerosene lamp. I remember the first car model Ford. My husband was in the Army. I lost my husband in 1941. I’ve been in DC ever since. I was living here when Martin Luther King was killed. I know you are a busy man, but I wish I could meet you. I could come to your house to make things easier. I pray to the Lord that I would be able to meet you one day.”

The Lord answered that prayer. And that points to something about this lovely woman that deserves particular mention: her deep Christian faith: “One of my secrets for longevity is reading the Bible and praying daily, loving Jesus Christ, and my fellow man. There’s no one that I don’t like; I love everybody.”

We can hope that Mrs. McLaurin continues to bring light and joy to many more people for years to come. And when the Lord calls her home, it’s delightful to think of her dancing into His presence, even as she did with the President and First Lady of the United States.

A Fundamental Departure from the Faith

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 15, 2016

My father was a choir boy in the famous “Little Church Around the Corner,” the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration in New York City. One of my aunts was married there. 

On its website, the church makes a point not of noting how many people have been won for Christ through its ministries but, instead, boasts of this:

Continuing its long tradition of inclusiveness, the ‘Little Church’ celebrated the first same-sex wedding in the Diocese of New York in July 2012 and is proud to have performed several since the formal rite of Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant was adopted by the General Convention.”

It is this sort of thing – pride in jettisoning orthodox Christian teaching and practice on human sexuality – that yesterday led “the Anglican Primates - the senior bishops of the 38 Anglican Provinces” - to “formally … (require) that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church (USA) no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

As the Primates, who were gathered in Canterbury, England for a special meeting called by Anglicanism’s chief cleric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote, “The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union. The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”

Of additional note at the annual event was “the full participation of the leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), a new conservative body, among the leaders of the communion’s 38 provinces.”

As noted in The Washington Post, “Like other mainline denominations, the Episcopal Church, home to U.S. presidents and the nation’s elite, has struggled to fill its pews in recent years. It has lost more than 20 percent of its members since it consecrated (openly gay Bishop Gene) Robinson, and new statistics suggest that membership continues to fall, dropping 2.7 percent from 2013 to about 1.8 million U.S. members in 2014.”

This is a very sad day for a once great denomination, but not because it has been formally disciplined for its heterodoxy, but because of its embrace of that heterodoxy itself. The Bible is very clear that the only sexually intimate behavior of which God approves is that which exists between a man and a woman within the covenantal union of marriage. This is clear from Genesis onward.

It is, as the Primates’ statement says, “the traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture.” As well-known Presbyterian pastor and theologian Tim Keller has written, “until very, very recently, there had been complete unanimity about homosexuality in the church across all centuries, cultures, and even across major divisions of the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions … One has to ask, then, why is it the case that literally no church, theologian, or Christian thinker or movement ever thought that any kind of same-sex relationships was allowable until now?”

Millions of American Protestants, disenthralled by their former “mainline” churches’ teachings on one or more of a number of critical issues, including human sexuality, are now attending churches whose orthodoxy is uncompromised and whose loyalty to Scripture is firm. Why? Because, as the Anglican Primates wrote, they have come to know “the person and work of Jesus Christ, unceasingly and authentically, inviting all to embrace the beauty and joy of the Gospel.”

To learn more about Scripture’s teaching on human sexuality, listen to Dr. Robert Gagnon’s FRC lecture, “Jesus, Scripture, and the Myth of New Knowledge Arguments about Homosexual Unions” and download my own “Leviticus, Jesus, and Homosexuality: Some Thoughts on Honest Interpretation.”

Open Doors USA Releases World Watch List Highlighting Worst Countries for Persecution of Christians

by Travis Weber

January 14, 2016

Open Doors USA, an advocacy group for the persecuted church, yesterday released its “World Watch List” at an event at the National Press Club.

Sadly, predictions about 2015 had come true—persecution of Christians increased on every continent in the last year. While much of the attention is on radical Islam—which is sure to blame—perennial offenders (like #1 North Korea) continue to make a deadly impact with their incredibly repressive state-sponsored persecution.

The ten worst nations for persecution of Christians throughout 2015 were:

  • North Korea
  • Iraq
  • Eritrea
  • Afghanistan
  • Syria
  • Pakistan
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • Iran
  • Libya

The glum news was tempered by an encouraging story from a Kenyan widow, who recounted her moment of decision after finding out her evangelist husband had been killed. She said, “I decided to forgive,” because “I had to continue living.” Such a simple idea—yet one incredibly difficult to live out at times—encapsulates the importance of grasping our Lord Jesus’s admonition for all of us in this modern era, wherever we are:

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 

No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22)

Hello to America - in Arabic?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 18, 2015

Germany is working to assimilate its growing Muslim population with new online videos, “Marhaba” (“hello” in Arabic).

In “a series of ten, five-minute online videos,” the show “reminds viewers that German Basic Law—the constitution—takes precedence over all others, including Sharia.”

Writing in, Donna Rachel Edmunds notes that “There are approximately four million Muslims currently living in Germany, three quarters of whom are Turks who arrived in the country in the 1960s and 70s under Germany’s ‘guest worker’ scheme. However, half of that group have failed to integrate, and the speed of the current influx poses similar problems for integrating the new wave of one million asylum seekers.”

Reuters explains “Marhaba’s” emphasis on Germany’s view of essential human rights and liberties:

“Freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly are just three of the main rights secured by the (German) Basic Law,” (the host) tells viewers, with the Reichstag parliament building in the background.
The three fundamental rights are particularly sacred in Germany given that its history is scarred by the “horrors of dictatorship,” he continues. The Basic Law (Grundgesetz in German), (the host) says, was the foundation of the new democratic Germany established after World War Two.
The episode is filmed in Berlin’s government quarter where Deputy Finance Minister Jens Spahn, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, explains what freedom of expression looks like in Germany.
“Freedom of speech means everyone may say what they think. Freedom of the press means you may make jokes, even about religion,” Spahn says. “Even when jokes are made about the Koran, this must be tolerated.”

The German effort is impressive: gracious in tone, clear in explanation, surefooted in content. As America takes in immigrants and refugees from the world over, should we not have a similar and perhaps even mandatory program for them to watch in order to understand some of the core principles of our republic and the nature of freedom itself? Perhaps even an explanation that as the Declaration of Independence argues, our rights come from our Creator, not the state, whose duty it is to guard those rights?

How would the Left respond to such a thing—with accusations of indoctrination and ominous warnings about right-wing propagandization?

What do you think?

What Are We Made For?

by Daniel Hart

December 17, 2015

The great celebration of the birth of Christ is quickly approaching. In the spirit of the season, it seems appropriate to reflect on our humanness and what it all means. After all, God created us in His own image, as the Book of Genesis tells us. He then proceeded to come to us in the form of a newborn baby in Bethlehem. We can infer from this that being human is something incomparably unique and of the utmost importance in all of creation. What, then, is our purpose for existing? Much of this question can be deduced by what’s inherent in our very physicality, in the bodies that we’ve been given.

What seems most obvious is that we are not animals. We have fingers with soft, rounded tips, not claws. We have teeth with smoothed edges, not sharp-pointed fangs. Our delicate feet must be protected by artificial soles against the thorns and rocks of the ground, unlike hoofs or paws. Our bodies are swathed in sensitive, malleable skin, not a hardened shell or thick fur—we must wrap ourselves in manufactured protective layers against the elements. This inherent vulnerability in all of us makes it clear that we’re not meant to prey upon each other in a survival-of-the-fittest free-for-all as the animals do. So what are we meant for?

Let’s dig a little deeper. We’ve been given brains that are far more powerful than any computer, capable of both grounded logic and abstract reasoning. To express what we process there, we’ve been given a voice box unique among all living things, capable of articulating language at a level of sophistication and nuance that is unmatched. What is most immediately expressive, however, are our eyes, which convey emotions and feelings with such clarity and depth that by the observation of them alone, a window into the soul of another is opened.

Perhaps, then, we are made for the other, for love. Why? Because everything we think, say and do loses all meaning if there is not another to receive it, and our bodies are thus designed to give and receive in love. Our hands are for tender caresses and firm support; when we swing and hit with clenched fists, the result is fractured knuckles. Our voices are for strong proclamation and kind encouragement; when we shout angrily, our throats become hoarse. Furthermore, even the most intimate parts of us, our male and female sexual faculties, must be given and received in complementary mutual love to have any meaning. Indeed, even our most intimate prayers and longings of the heart are directed to another person—God the Son.

What does all this reveal? At the most fundamental level, this tells us that our lives are not ours. In cooperation with God the Father, our mother and father brought us into existence in an act of love. We did not choose to come into existence—it is a gift freely given to us. Therefore, we are called to be grateful and satisfied with the body and the life that we are given, and to resist the temptation to grasp at what we think we deserve. Since our lives are a gift freely given, we must in turn freely give it away, as Christ did. As Christians throughout history can attest, the greatest freedom and joy can be found in this.

Who Cares What Era We’re In?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 19, 2015

Having spent two full days at the annual gathering of the Evangelical Theological Society, I’ve heard myriad comments from lecturers and participants along the following lines concerning where Evangelicals find themselves in contemporary American society:

We live in a post-Christian culture.”

We live in an era of great promise.”

We are a minority and should ask for protected status.” (Yes, in a seminar I attended, this was seriously proposed.)

The decline of our culture is inevitable.”

The reasons for hope are great.”

As my friend Matt Anderson, founding editor of Mere Orthodoxy, said to me earlier today, in one profound sense, what difference does it make?

Of course, understanding the times gives us a map by which we can better communicate with the current generation, what the critical issues facing our country are, and how Christians can then persuade our contemporaries that the Gospel offers present and eternal hope and how God’s standards for society afford great blessing to everyone in it.

With that said, endless pondering over our position in society has become a near-closet industry among the Evangelical intelligentsia. It is only natural that in the wake of the Supreme Court’s fiat dictum on same-sex marriage this past summer, the continuing horror of abortion, genuine and growing threats to the practice of religious liberty, and other concerns as diverse as sex trafficking and domestic terrorism, that trying to understand how we are perceived, where our opportunities lie, where the dangers lurk, and how we speak winsomely, wisely, truthfully, and convincingly to our increasingly diverse society is not just appropriate but necessary, even imperative.

Yet meticulous and repetitive analysis removes our focus from where it should be—Christ and His Good News—and fosters a surfeit of gloom in some and a general sense of ennui in many. We are in a race for the glory of God (Hebrews 12:1-2). That race will not be won by continuous chin-pulling or hand-wringing but by discipline, speed, and agility harnessed in pursuit of a longed-for goal. For Christians, that goal is “the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14), a calling which includes reaching the lost, protecting the weak, and upholding human dignity. 

So, by all means, let’s continue healthy reflection on the cultural canvas before us. But let us not become so immobilized that we don’t work to infuse it with the colors of life and joy offered by the living Savior. The “welfare of the city” (Jeremiah 29:7) and the souls of men require no less.

Dear Armed Services Member: You Make Us Proud

by Joshua Denton

November 11, 2015

A simple “thanks” seems so insufficient today.

Today is the designated day where we show our appreciation for the men and women in uniform who have sacrificed in order to preserve freedom and protect our Union. It is most appropriate that these brave individuals are honored, and that we create a special holiday for them.

One day is insufficient to truly appreciate all that they have put on the line so that we can enjoy freedom and live in tranquility.

Some gave years. Years apart from their homes. Apart from their fiancé, or spouse. Apart from their families and children. Missing them. Wondering. Worrying.

Some lost limbs. Never again to travel around with the same abilities and mobility.

Some lost their best buddies. Some turned around and had a best friend fall lifeless into their arms.

Some lost memories of the past. Cherished moments forgotten, relatives and friends now unknown to them.

Some gave all. They paid the ultimate sacrifice. A life. For your freedom. For your happiness.

Freedom is a thing to be cherished.

To the brave men and women, past and present, who are members of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, we salute you.

Not just today, in this month of November, on Veterans Day. We appreciate you every day. We think of you often.

Dear Armed Services Member: You make us proud.

Thank you for your service. 

Sexual Abuse of “Dancing Boys” in Afghanistan – Bacha Bazi and Its Impact on Americans Serving There

by Chris Gacek

September 22, 2015

In a significant article, the New York Times has broached the subject of the rampant sexual abuse of young children and teens by Afghan men.  The story is tied to its reporting on the effects this has had on American forces in Afghanistan who have been told to ignore such acts – even if they occur in their presence or on military bases.  As the story notes, in one example, “Dan Quinn was relieved of his Special Forces command after a fight with a U.S.-backed militia leader who had a boy as a sex slave chained to his bed.”  His story and those of two other Americans is recounted.  Apparently, there has been much personal and career damage caused by this amoral policy of non-intervention.

As it turns out, in Afghanistan there is a ritualized form of sexual abuse called  “bacha bazi” – or boy play.  (The practice was supposedly banned under the Taliban, and it is nominally illegal under current Afghan law.)  The boys are often trained to dance and dress as young girls before being used for sex.  Some boys are just sodomized if they can’t learn these perverse geisha-like talents. 

An Afghan journalist, Najibullah Quraishi, produced a documentary, “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan,” that was shown in London in late March 2010 (run time: 52 min; this version is available on  In the United States, a slightly longer and more polished production was aired on PBS’s Frontline in April 2010 under the same title.  It can be found here

The nation needs to support the efforts of Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Vern Buchanan (R-FL) who are trying to investigate this horrific practice and salvage the career of Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a member of the Special Forces who joined Captain Quinn in beating up the Afghan who is reportedly a child-molesting commander.