Larry Farlow


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Islam & The West – A Much Needed History Lesson

History is more or less bunk. – Henry Ford

I’m not sure the context in which Mr. Ford uttered those words but if he were alive today it could easily be in response to the history taught regarding Islam and its interaction with the west. While the most recent historical bunk on this topic came from President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, it did not start with him. The president was only parroting what’s taught from coast to coast in secondary schools and universities – and has been for years.

Things like:

  • There is a moral equivalence between the Crusades and Islamic jihad throughout the years
  • There was a “golden age” of Islam, especially in Spain, where Muslims, Christians and Jews all lived in harmony
  • Islam preserved the knowledge of the classical world for future generations.

In the video below, Dr. Bill Warner debunks each of these, and more. It’s well worth the 45 minute investment to watch it. However, while I applaud his thoroughness in gathering and presenting the data to tell the story of Islam, I disagree with his premise as to why the true history of Islam is not taught in the west.

Warner says its out of fear that we water down the history of Islamic atrocities. That, like an abused spouse, the west has been so battered by Islam over the years that we view it through rose colored glasses as a self-defense mechanism. Frankly, I don’t buy that. The history of Islam is rewritten because doing so helps marginalize Christianity and minimize its importance in the founding and flourishing of western culture – something those in the ivory towers of academia are always keen to do.

Nevertheless, watch this video. You’ll learn some things about the history of Islam that may surprise you.


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Jesus Is The Line

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:43-44

There are only two categories of people in the world – those whose father is God and those whose father is the Devil. While we are all created in the image of God, we are not all children of God. In John chapter 8, Jesus says it is belief in Him that separates the children of God from the children of the devil.
Jesus Line

Men want to substitute all kinds of things for Jesus. They want to make the line of demarcation between the ungodly and the godly good works or sincerity of belief or belonging to a particular religion or denomination. Jesus is clear, however, that we move from the left side of the line to the right side only through faith in Him.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6

The Bible says by nature we are on the left side of the line, children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). But the good news is we don’t have to stay that way. By repenting of our sins, admitting there’s nothing we can do on our own to move from the left side to the right side, and placing our trust in Christ we can be saved.

Are you willing to abandon all effort to make yourself right with God and throw yourself on the mercy of Christ?


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Are You “Unclean?” Then Rejoice for He is Willing!

While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on
his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” – Luke 5:12

Are You "Unclean?" The Rejoice for He is Willing!This simple statement, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” sums up the gospel. Often we concentrate on the first part of the verse concerning Jesus’ willingness and rejoice in that – as well we should! But there are two things to notice here. Not only is Christ willing to cleanse those who come to Him but those who come are always aware of their uncleanliness and their inability to do anything about it apart from Christ. This man knew he was unclean and knew he had no hope of dealing with that uncleanliness unless Christ did a miracle in his life.

The same is true for us. When we recognize our sin and our bankrupt state we need never fear rejection by Christ. He has come to call not the righteous but sinners (Luke 5:32) and He is always willing to cleanse and set free those broken over their sin.

Do you see your need for Christ? If not, pray that he will open your eyes to your true condition then throw yourself on his mercy, for He is willing.


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One Size Does Not Fit All

Twice so far this year, the nation has witnessed the death of a citizen at the hands of the police (actually, much more than twice but most were not causes celebre). First Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and now Eric Garner in New York City. In both cases the officer using deadly force was white and the victim was black. In both cases as well a grand jury returned a “no bill” removing the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against the officers.

However, that is where the similarities end.

In the case of Mike Brown, crimes against persons and property were involved – situations in which deadly force is sometimes necessary. I won’t rehash all the particulars as that’s been done ad infinitum. However, based on the evidence, it seems that the officer acted after being attacked.

With Eric Garner the situation is different. From what I can see, Garner was a threat to no person or property. He was suspected of selling a perfectly legal product, cigarettes. The problem is he was doing it in a way that prevented the government from getting their substantial cut of the transaction through taxes. The police in this case were acting as agents of the state on behalf of the state, not on behalf of the citizens of the state protecting their lives and property.

I witnessed something similar earlier this year in Atlanta but with a far better outcome. My teenaged son and I went downtown to see the Gumball 3000 rally cars arrive. As is often the case at events like this, entrepreneurial types began to work the crowd trying to make a buck or two. One was an older black man trying to sell airplane sized bottles of liquor. Most people just waved him off and said no thanks. He was hurting no one. But, because he was trying to sell liquor in a way that cut the state out of the loop, it wasn’t long before the Atlanta Police had him handcuffed at the back of a squad car. A few people in the crowd, which was a mixture of black and white, began to call out to the police to let the man go. To the APD’s credit, after a few minutes they did and the man went on his way. When he was released, the crowd clapped and cheered. Though I realize the circumstances in Atlanta are different from those in the New York case, I still think Garner’s death was a travesty and the officer should probably have been indicted (with the caveat that I’ve not seen all the evidence presented to the grand jury over several months).

But, the issue here is not racism it is out of control government and until we admit that we’ll never solve the problem. Eric Garner might be alive today not, if only he was white, but if only New York City didn’t have the highest cigarette taxes in the nation and a policy of protecting that revenue stream at all costs. Senator Rand Paul makes that point here:


According to Marxist history no matter what happens the reason for it is always class struggle. What started WWI? Class struggle. What caused the fall of the Roman Empire? Class struggle. It’s a one size fits all approach to history designed to validate Marxist policies and ideology.

There’s a similar narrative being told now in the United States. No matter the circumstances if a conflict involves more than one race, racism is automatically the cause and the solution is more government control to combat the racsim. As long as we’re baited into accepting that narrative, the state gets to continue expanding its power.

Since at least the 1960s the left in this country, with overwhelming support from the black community, has increased the size and role of the government exponentially and positioned it as the solution to all problems – supplanting the family, the local community and individual responsibility. In short, whatever the problem, government is viewed as the savior.

But when your messiah is a mere human institution, you’re asking for trouble. Though it may begin by exercising power for your benefit, it will eventually exercise it to your detriment when your goals and the government’s goals conflict – which they invariably do in societies where government is large and powerful and wants to stay that way.

You cannot simultaneously support giving government the power to solve all your problems and then express outrage when they use the power you’ve given them to take down a man selling the cigarettes they’ve decided to protect you from. Paraphrasing George Washington, government is like fire; it’s a dangerous servant at best and a fearful master at worst. And as long as that master can keep us pointing the finger at each other rather than at him, there will be more Eric Garner moments.

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What Is Faith?

What is Faith?The Bible tells us without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6) so the answer to the question “what is faith?” is pretty important.

In the first chapter of Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus’ birth foretold to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). Immediately after this Mary leaves to visit her relative Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist whose birth was also foretold by an angelic encounter.

When they meet Elizabeth says something to Mary that is one of the most solid definitions of faith found in the scriptures:

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished – Luke 1:45

The Bible nowhere speaks of faith as wishful thinking or “naming” what we want and expecting God to provide it. Nor does it present faith as belief without evidence as is sometimes alleged. Faith is believing God will do what He’s said He will do. Paul makes this point also in Romans:

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” – Romans 4:3

God spoke to Mary through the angel Gabriel and she believed Him. God spoke to Abraham and he believed him. God speaks to us today through His word. He tells us if we will repent of our sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ we will be saved (Acts 16:31, Romans 10:9). For believers He tells us He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), not to worry (Philippians 4:6) and that He is coming again (Revelation 22:7) among many other things.

A life of faith is a life lived as if the promises of God in scripture are true.

Do you believe Him today?

 


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Offensive Weapons

Offensive WeaponsOur culture has raised taking offense to an art form. While there are probably many explanations for this, I came across something recently that I think explains it very well.

For my birthday my daughter gave me a copy of Dostoevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.” As I was reading it, a quote jumped off the page at me:

“The man who lies to himself can be more easily offended than anyone.”

For those invested in lies, the only protection available is to prevent truth from being heard. And, since lies cannot go head to head with truth and win, you need a secret weapon. In the arena of ideas, that secret weapon is often “offense.” It allows you to shut down discussion on almost any topic before things get out of hand. It steps between you and truth like a celebrity’s bodyguard fending off the paparazzi.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: when you encounter a topic for which only one point of view is allowed, that acceptable point of view is probably a lie. Note carefully what I’m saying. I’m not denying there are issues for which only one view is correct, far from it. I believe in the concept of absolute truth, the law of non-contradiction, etc. I’m saying if the accepted point of view is not open to challenge it’s likely because it cannot stand up to scrutiny and so must be protected some other way such as the tactic of taking offense.

Here are a few things in that category; admittedly some of these are more vehemently defended with the “I’m offended” tactic than others:

  • The unborn are not people, they’re just a mass of tissue
  • Abortion is healthcare
  • Gender is a social construct
  • It’s possible to be physically male yet really be a woman (and vice versa)
  • Man-made global warming is a fact and is a threat to the planet
  • Macroevolution is the explanation for all the life forms we see today.
  • A relationship between two people of the same gender can be a marriage
  • Minimum wage laws help the poor
  • Government spending creates prosperity
  • Islam is a religion of peace

I could go on. To question any of these assertions is to be offensive to many in our culture. Of course the words “I’m offended” may not always be used. You will sometimes be accused of being intolerant or misogynistic or homophobic or a greedy capitalist, etc. but those are just other ways the tactic of taking offense manifests itself.

There’s also an underlying assumption in Dostoevsky’s quote: people know they are lying to themselves about these things.  Of course the transsexual or the abortionist would deny this but deep down they know truth is not on their side. That is why they are so quick to take offense. The apostle Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. – Romans 1:18-23

Which brings us to the biggest assertion of all that this tactic is used to defend:

There is no God.

If you want to see people go from 0 to 60 on the “I’m offended” scale in nothing flat, just acknowledge God in the public square. The shortest length of time known to man is the time between when a prayer is said at a city council meeting and a lawsuit is filed by an atheist.

In the end you must expect to be labeled “offensive” if you stand for truth in our day (usually by folks who claim to hate “labels,” I might add). But when you are take heart, for when someone claims your point of view is offensive it’s likely because they have no counter arguments for it.


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The Parable of the Ten Virgins – Matthew 25:1-13

The Parable of the Ten Virgins – Matthew 25:1-13“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

This parable can be confusing if we try to attach specific meaning to each component (lanterns, oil, trimming the lamps, oil sellers, etc.). While it was common in medieval theology to spiritualize every single aspect of a parable (see Augustine’s interpretation of the Good Samaritan parable), parables generally teach one overarching truth and should be understood that way. We’re not called to ferret out the allegorical meaning of each component. There are times when, because of context or other teachings in scripture, symbolic meaning can be assigned. For example, I believe we’re safe in saying the “bridegroom” in this parable is Christ. There are also times when scripture tells us what the components mean as we see in Matthew 13 when Jesus explains the parables of the sower and the wheat and the tares. But, beyond that, we should not speculate.

The key to understanding this parable is its context. Matthew includes this teaching immediately after Jesus’ teaching on the end of the age in Matthew 24. The parable is a warning to be prepared for the coming of Christ.

The foolish virgins thought they were ready. However, the unexpected return of the bridegroom exposed them as frauds – and it was too late for them. The response of the bridegroom to their pleas in verse 12 is almost identical to Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:23:

“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Terrifying words.

We know not the day and the hour. Therefore, we should make our calling and election sure so that when that day comes we will receive a rich welcome into the “eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 1:10-11)

Are you ready for the coming of the Lord?

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