President Obama met with Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, but you’d hardly know it. There was no invitation to the press. Absolutely no photo ops. You won’t see photos of the two men standing, smiling, shaking hands in tomorrow’s newspaper. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton probably had a more substantial meeting, but even that didn’t get much attention.

You won’t hear much about Netanyahu’s concession to endorse a two-state solution, or his restricting West Bank settlement growth for ten months. But you will hear that while Vice President Biden was visiting Israel recently a new housing project was announced in the media in Israel. Oh, but not to worry, Mr. Biden punished Mr. Netanyahu by arriving ninety minutes late for a scheduled dinner.

The obvious cold shoulder shown to Israel’s prime minister may have a deeper connotation. Remember, this is the same American president who met with King Abdullah of Jordan last year, and rolled out the red carpet. The press got many photo ops. King Abdullah was here to ask the president to push Israel to accept the two-statement solution, and to push the Arab Initiative of 2002 which demands that Israel go back to the borders of pre-1967.
Remember, too, that this is the president who wrote in his book Audacity, “I will stand with them [the Muslims] should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” In that same paragraph he states that Judeo-Christian heritage will recede as an all-religions country emerges.

What did we expect would happen when he became President? Did we expect him to continue America’s long tradition of cooperation with Israel. Did we really think that he would continue to recognize the danger Israel faces by the leaders of the extreme Arab nations? Do most Americans honestly not know that Ahmadinejab prays for a world without Israel and the United States in it? Perhaps Americans should just Google “World Without Zionism” and read some quotes.

The problem we “Judeo-Christians” -we vanishing people of a previous heritage in America- face is that we have very clear reasons why we think we should stand with Israel, and they have nothing to do with politics. No, we vanishing people happen to believe in the Bible, and the Bible shows that God has chosen to use Israel as a “clock” for the timing of the end, and as a “litmus test,” if you please, to determine who is favored by God and who is not favored.

In Numbers 24 Balaam was hired by Balak to pronounce a curse against Israel, and he went out to do so. But he could not, for he saw “that it pleased to Lord to bless Israel.” And in his discovery comes the phrase directed at Israel as a people, “Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you” (24:9). Now, we Christians know that is not a commandment for us, but we cannot ignore the content.

Israel played a huge role in giving us our favorite Jew, Jesus Christ. And most of us believe that Israel still has a place in prophecy. Nations are going to come against her in the end, and God is going to cause her to prevail. We can’t talk about that in politics. It sounds foolish and naive.
It’s just the mutterings of a vanishing people, the ever-fading Judeo-Christian.

Here we go again. Some congressmen are pushing President Obama to hurry up with immigration reform, and one of their key initiatives is the implementation of “biometric national identification cards.” Senators Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) just postponed a meeting with the President for the second time. It is likely that they are simply reacting to sharp criticism from advocates.

But mark this down: this congress will push the issue of immigration reform, and they will include a demand for biometric national ID cards. Biometric ID cards will necessarily contain virtually all of your personal information – banking, health, insurance, and more – and will require your bodily engagement to be effective, i.e., either your thumbprint or handprint, or eye scan. And of course there are those who believe the card is the first step to an implanted chip similar to those used now on pets, and approved by the FDA in 2004 for human implants.

The CEO of PositiveID (formerly VeriChip), Scott Silverman, said on Fox & Friends in 2006 that immigrant workers ought to be “chipped” to track them and monitor their taxes. It should be noted that PositiveID is a new company which resulted from the merger of VeriChip and Steel Vault, the people behind Am I the only one that wonders at the connection between a company which manufactures human microchip implants and credit reporting companies?

The disturbing thing about the senators who are about to push for immigration reform which will include a biometric I.D. is that they won’t discuss other methods of controlling illegal immigration. There are so many other options short of building walls. Every small town in America knows where its illegal workers hang out, and who hires them. But nothing is done because local law enforcement knows they don’t have the support of the ICE or other federal agencies.

And think about this. Currently illegal immigrants are able to work without providing one shred of documentation. No driver’s license. No Social Security card. They just work for cash with no reporting. Now how exactly is the requirement for everyone to have a biometric ID card going to change that?
The illegals will still work under the radar, no license, no SS card, and no National ID card. The only people genuinely targeted by such “immigration reforms” are the legal people who are already carrying every ID card required, and paying taxes on their income.

When Senator Schumer was told small businesses would have to pay $800 for a scanner just to scan employees, his response for the business owner was, “He can just go down to the DMV.” What an ignorant response for a man voting on the life and welfare of every human being in America. Like the DMV is going to welcome local businessmen lining up to scan their employees. Or like you need the extra people in line when you’re trying to buy tags for your car, or renew your driver’s license.
Nothing surprises me coming out of congress anymore. But some things do frighten me.

I was disappointed watching the Academy Awards 2010. Not at the hosts. I thought Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were funny! I thought they teamed up to provide a welcome “show within the show.”

And no, I wasn’t disappointed at the winners. I thought Bridges was due, and I thought Sandra Bullock was actually humble in her acceptance. And I thought the movie she won for was a wonderful example of how Hollywood can once in a while come through with something mainstream Americans can warm up to.

No, my disappointment was more about something that didn’t happen rather than something that happened. For the last few years I’ve watched certain Hollywood celebs use their Oscars night to either bash former president Bush, or to make an impassioned plea to “bring our soldiers home!” Their compassion was convincing as they spoke of our young men and women dying “over there.” In particular, I watched Sean Penn on some Youtubes demanding that Bush be impeached because he had put our young people in an improper war, and demanding that democrats, when they were in control, bring our troops home.

And does anyone remember Barbra Streisand’s outrage? I know there were others, but the two I named were actually at the Oscars, and had a speaking role. What a great opportunity for Streisand to talk about how we have tripled the number of soldiers in Afghanistan that we had when Bush left office. And we still have troops dying in Iraq. Penn had a golden opportunity to simply say, “Bring our troops home.” Surely they haven’t forgotten their numerous speeches in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

But, alas, there was not a word about our dying soldiers in a bad war. I don’t get it. If they were dying unnecessarily two years ago, how is it that they are now dying well? If compassion cried out for them two years ago, what happened to that compassion?

So I was disappointed that, at the Oscars, some of the celebrities who have been so filled with compassion for our troops in the past seem to have lost their compassion. Some who wanted, no, demanded, an immediate end to the war, seem to now embrace the tripling of troops in Afghanistan. Ain’t politics something?

I mean, it makes you want to ask, “Where is Cindy Sheehan?” I know she didn’t have anything to do with the Oscars, but she was famous for camping outside Bush’s Texas ranch and protesting the soldiers being in Iraq. But to be fair to her, did you know she actually tried to do the same thing last August when Obama was vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard? Yep. She went there to camp and protest just like she did Bush. She went there to tell Obama to get the troops home. But you didn’t see her on TV protesting Obama’s war, did you? Nope. Hollywood must now approve of it. That’s all I can guess after watching this year’s Oscars.

She never saw the truck coming, didn’t have time to brace for impact. In an instant she was blasted across the console of our brand new Toyota Celica, her head knocking out the passenger side window. The truck had run a red light and broadsided her. Witnesses rushed to her side and helped her. In minutes an ambulance took her to Baylor Hospital.

I was working several miles away when the company phone rang. A coworker offered me a ride to the hospital. When I arrived an hour after the accident, doctors were still digging out glass from her head and ear. She was a bloody mess. But there was a worse problem: she was seven months pregnant with our first child!
After a couple of hours waiting, one of the doctors came out and summoned me for a private meeting. “Your wife is extremely shaken,” he said, “but she should recover okay. Our real concern now is for the baby. We can’t find a heartbeat.”

“What does that mean?” I stumbled, not knowing the right questions to ask.

“It’s not uncommon,” he comforted. “Sometimes in a shock like this a baby’s heartbeat may be dramatically subdued. But usually, by now…”. He hesitated.

They kept her for observation, and I prayed long into the night that tomorrow they’d tell us the baby’s heart was beating and everything was going to be fine. But instead when I went to pick her up and take her home, the doctor told me to take her to our pediatrician right away.

After long scrutiny the pediatrician prepared us for the worst. He was holding out hope the heartbeat would return. But we should come back to him in two days. We did. Still no heartbeat. He prepared us kindly. The baby would be stillborn.

We should keep a bag packed and be ready to respond immediately at the first sign of labor. My wife’s body would naturally reject the baby, and the baby’s lifeless body would be expelled.
We continued to return to the pediatrician every few days. He was surprised that after two weeks of no heartbeat we had not had to make that emergency trip. Then it was three weeks. Then four.
The pain of losing our firstborn had weighed enormously on us. After four weeks I saw that one of my friends was preaching at a hotel in north Dallas, and I asked my wife if she wanted to go hear him. Just an excuse to get out of the house. I was surprised that she did.

When the service was over, we were among the first to slip out, hurrying through the foyer to get back home, back to bed, back to waiting. As we crossed the mezzanine, a familiar voice called out, “Danny boy!”

It was my childhood pastor, Rev. Paul Hosch. He summoned us over, smiled down at my wife’s tummy, and said, “I like to pray for all the girls in my church when they’re pregnant. I know you’re not in my church, but I just feel like I ought to pray for you. Do you mind?”
We didn’t, of course, and right there in the foyer of the hotel he prayed that my wife and baby would have a perfect birth. He didn’t know the situation. We had not been in touch with him for a long time.
We got in the car, swallowed up in our loneliness. “It was sweet of him to pray,” my wife said, looking out the side window as tears fell.

We dressed for bed. She was exhausted from her first time out of bed in a month. We hoped she hadn’t overdone it. I checked to see that the packed suitcase was still in its place.

Around two in the morning I was awakened by my wife’s screaming. Instinctively I jumped from the bed and began to pull on my clothes. She was saying, “No, no, no!” I was saying, “It’s alright. It’s okay. You’re gonna be fine!” I was dressed before I realized she was telling me to stop dressing. She was crying, but she was laughing.

“Feel!” she yelled. I saw that her hand was rubbing her tummy. I put mine there, and for the first time in four weeks, our firstborn was kicking.

A few weeks later, both mom and baby had a perfect birth!

My oldest daughter was about 6 years old, playing on the floor with a church friend of the same age. My youngest, Ashley, was three. She was excluded from their game. Chutes and Ladders was too complicated for her, they thought. But she could count, and proved it to them, so they let her in.
After a few plays they called to me. “Daddy, you want to play with us?” I guessed the door had been opened to outsiders, so I left my book on the dining table and headed to the contest.

My youngest was being bratty. Every time she would climb a ladder, she’d chant in a sing-song, “Na na nuh na na, I’m gonna win.” The others rolled their eyes.
Chutes and Ladders is a tricky game. In just a few spins, the little taunter hit a couple of slides and fell back, and Daddy hit a couple of ladders. And just like that, I won the game.

Without thinking, I chanted in her sing-song, “Na na nuh na na, I won the game!” And suddenly, without warning, she exploded in rage, jumped to her tiny feet, and yelled, “Well I coulda won if it hadna been for my stoopid daddy!” And then she turned and ran to her room.

The three of us were shocked. I didn’t know what to do. Meekly I whispered to the two girls, “Keep playing. I’m going to sit out for a while.” And then I went back to the table and my book.
Quite simply, I didn’t know how to respond. She’d never called me stupid. I had not seen that kind of rage in her. I felt partly guilty because I goaded her, but she had been doing the same. I imagined what my father might have done to me if I had ever called him stupid. But I elected to just keep reading my book.

After a while, I was aware of timid little steps behind my chair. I sensed her. She didn’t speak. Momentarily I turned around to face her. Her little body was in complete surrender. Her arms hung limp at her chubby little sides, her head hung down. She wouldn’t look up. She knew she was in for it, and she had come meekly to get it.
“Do you want something?” I asked. She never looked up.

“I sawwy, Daddy.” A tiny tear fell.

I opened my knees and pulled her into my chest and just hugged her. The other little girls were watching. I whispered in her ear, “It’s okay. I’m sorry, too. I shouldn’t have teased you.” And then we just hugged for while. After moments, I said, “We gonna be okay?”


“Want to go back and play?”

“Uh huh.”
So I let her go. As she turned, heart all healed, tension all gone, I reached toward her and caught her attention. She froze for second. “Hey,” I whispered, “You don’t really think I’m stoopid, do you?”
Her face screwed up for a second, and then, “Sometimes!” And she was gone. Before I could backhand her across the room, she was playing again.

I spun back around to the table and laid my head in the crook of my arm. I was having a moment, and I needed to have it privately.

“God,” I whispered, “I wish I could know that you love me like I love my kids. I love my kids even when they’re brats.” And in one of those rare moments of life, I heard God whisper back in my ear, as I had in hers, “Where do you think you learned to love? I don’t love you ’cause you’re good; I love you ’cause you’re mine.”

My father was a simple man who offered simple solutions to problems. When I was a teenager and trying to be a good Christian, I would ask his help with some problem, and more often than not his advice would simply be: “Why don’t you just pray about it?”

That would be it. Just pray. I saw that as a cop-out, an unwillingness to hammer out the details of a resolution. As a result, I probably over-reacted the opposite direction. I tried to resolve all conflicts. I tried to figure out the complex issues, and talk for hours. In the long run, prayer became a “last resort” for me. If all else fails, then I’ll pray about it. But for my dad, prayer had always been a “first resort.”

I wish I had learned from him a little earlier.

Along the way I’ve accidentally discovered the power of prayer.

It would take too long to list the many opportunities I’ve had to discover the value of prayer, but it is necessary that I tell at least one.

In Vietnam, I had my first bout with fear and depression after about 8 months in the country. My fiancee had dropped me, and my family was going through a huge crisis, and I was out of touch, unable to call home and communicate. And remember, I liked to talk things out and work out long resolutions. The helpless and hopeless feelings slowly drove me into a deep despair, and one day I simply walked away from my duty post without explanation. My commanding officer saw me and yelled at me, but I waved him off, telling him I couldn’t function. I wandered aimlessly, then wound up at my hooch, and fell across my cot. Still didn’t pray though. For a long time I just lay on my face and tried to think things through. There had to be a solution. I just couldn’t see it yet. Finally, in complete, silent helplessness I just leaned back on my knees and stretched one hand toward heaven, with my eyes closed tightly.

When I did, one of my buddies had apparently been watching me over the plywood divider between our cots, and he actually reached down and gripped my hand. I flushed with embarrassment, and wondered which of my friends was so ignorant that he would do this to me.

I kept my eyes closed tightly while I counted to 10, trying to think of a comment I could make that would get us past this awkward moment. Finally I decided I would just look at him and say, “You nut, what are you doing?” and see how he responded.

So I took a breath, and opened my eyes. To my surprise, no one was there. No one gripped my hand, although I had felt it squeeze, and squeezed it back. And even now, looking up, I felt the hand in mine, though none was there.

Chills raced up my spine. I was shocked for a moment, and then I heard the kindest voice whisper, “If you’ll just hold to this hand, I’ll work out everything back home, and everything in your life.”
I fell across my bed, and now the dam burst. I wept, over and over. But it was good weeping. I was consoled. I understood that life and its problems were not always in my hand to resolve. I could “just pray,” and know that there was a Friend listening, and He could work things out.

Are you holding His hand?

Not sure? Just pray. You’ll know.

Dave and I lost touch with each other after I left my first pastorate. He worked at the same engineering company I worked for. He had been a nice man, not always agreeing with my religious side of “coffee break discussions,” but never was rude like some were.
When I moved away, I lost ties to my former friends. So when my phone rang 20 years later and a husky voice on the other end asked, “Are you the Danny Carpenter that used to work in Dallas?” I was blown away. It was Dave.
It turns out Dave had converted after I moved away. Married, had a kid, and was now, 20 years later, a Sunday School teacher. And on Sunday his pastor had challenged members to remember the person or people who had impacted them for Christ, and find them to say “Thank you.” So Dave was calling me to thank me. Twenty years ago, he said, I made a lasting impression on him. It was a humbling moment.
After we hung up, I began to reflect on my own mentors. Men who had shaped my life. There were two men who made a huge impact on me. One was the principal of my 7th and 8th grade years. Harold Lichtenwald, principal of Sidney Lanier, took me under his wing and helped me. Saved me. One of the greatest men I’ve ever known.
The other was Fred Gregory, my high school drafting teacher. One of a kind. Cared about his students’ futures, not their grades. He showed me that character was more important than skill. And he helped me long after high school.
I decided to look them up. Mr. Gregory was easy. He still lived in the same house in Mesquite. I phoned him, and wrote a column about him in the local newspaper. My way of saying thanks.
Mr. Lichtenwald was a little harder to find. When I did, he was dying in a nursing home in Dallas. Parkinson’s, diabetes, and something else. But I walked in his room unannounced, and he asked, “Are you looking for someone?”
“You,” I said. “I’m a voice from your past.”
He smiled. “How far back?”
“Sidney Lanier,” I said, knowing he’d never guess. But to my surprise, he teared up and said, “Danny Carpenter.” I couldn’t believe it. He cried a while, and then, embarrassed, told me he couldn’t move his arms, and he could really use help with his running nose and eyes. It was my privilege.
I loved those two men. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they loved me, too. Mr. Lichtenwald passed away a year after I found him. Mr. Gregory just passed away a day after this past Christmas.
I am glad I found them. I’m glad I thanked them before they slipped away.
Who do you need to find? Find ’em. And thank them.
You’ll be glad you did.

President Obama tried to be coy when he admonished Christians by asking which Christianity we should choose: “James Dobson’s Christianity; or Al Sharpton’s?” You mean they’re different? Maybe a better comparison would have been: “James Dobson’s, or Jeremiah Wright’s?”
But the truth is, if they’re both following Christ, and lifting Him up as Lord Almighty, then the chances are they’re both in the “body of Christ.” And the “body” has many members: eyes, ears, noses, feet… you get the picture. What part of the body is your church?
If you practice the analogy given in I Corinthians 12, you’ll have to learn to accept people of differing denominations. Our faith is still in the Lord Jesus. Be we have different functions in His body.
The apostle Paul pictures a body’s members arguing with themselves. The ear “looks” at the eye (since it has no eye, I don’t know how) and it says, “I must not be in the body, ’cause I’m not like the eye.” I don’t know how it spoke, since it has no mouth. But Paul must have been having fun trying to point out the damage done when Christian churches downplay other churches, or outright condemn them, because of denominational doctrinal differences.
Truthfully, most denominations developed doctrines of exclusivism. Such singular doctrines were essential, in the minds of the founding fathers, to preserve the uniqueness. And today, although many modern pastors may quibble privately at their own denomination’s staunch preservation of its “preservation doctrines,” they won’t do so publically.
Paul was clear about the reason we need to accept each other, even though we are dramatically different. Christ prayed that all who “believe” in Him “may be as one” (John 17:20-22). And when Paul wrote his clever piece in I Corinthians 12 about the “body” being comprised of many completely different parts, he declared that there should be “no schism in the body” (vs25).
So whether your church is the eye, or the ear, or the nose… or maybe the knee… the point is that you should simply be gald to be who you are, and not look disdainfully at other churches that you don’t understand or agree with. If they worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and they’ve received the revelation that He is Lord, they are His. And so are you. So rejoice and be happy in your faith. And let the “eye” do the same.

I have noticed that a number of radio or television ministers are speaking about America’s need for a revival.  Sometimes it is a genuine call from ministers who are agonizing over the demise of godliness in America, and sometimes it is simply a “get on the bandwagon” response to what’s current.

At any rate, the troubling thing about the call to Revival is that it is so “corporate.”  It is not directed at us individually, but at America generally.  And that’s the rub, so to speak.

As long as we sit silently by, lending our “Amen!” to a stirring sermon, then hurrying to dinner, and hurrying home to grab the remote and watch our nightly nonsense, and then spending six days away from church, and from our devotional sense of God, then revival will not come to America.

Because revival must be an individual thing.  I… YOU… WE must have revival.  We must examine ourselves.  We must pray. We must repent. We must change.  We must intercede.  We.  Not America.  Not them. Not those “cold” churches.   We. 

I love preaching to others.  I hate preaching to me.  I love trying to change the guy going the wrong way.  I hate trying to change my own habits, and trying to break out of my complacency.  Sometimes the tide has to turn against us before we get serious about changing.  And that being said, perhaps the greatest indication that revival is possible in America is the obvious media turn against Christianity.

The media was not really mean to Rev. Jeremiah Wright for his anti-America “God-d*** America” sermon.  Not really.  But have you see the vitriolic response of some to Brit Hume’s comments to Tiger Woods about finding Christ?

Forget revival coming to America.  Pray for revival to come to you.  If enough of “you” and “I” can genuinely have a revival of faith and character and courage, then it will automatically come to our “land.”    (2 Chron. 7:14)

I enjoy watching the bowl games at this time of year.  Young men on their way up in the world of football.  They’re playing to win a game, but they also know the eyes of scouts are on them.  The pros are watching.  Their future could be hanging on a great performance.

This football season was the first for my young grandson.  It was fun to watch him, to wonder if he’ll play in high school, or in college.  It was fun to watch his transformation, suddenly wanting to “muscle up,” and becoming much more conscious of “team.”

But I think the most joy this football season has brought me has been watching my grandson’s mother (my daughter) go through her own transformation.  This was the woman who a year ago might have said, “Ewww, don’t touch that bug, it’s nasty.”  Or, “Look how dirty you are.  Get in there and clean up, young man.”  She certainly said, “You be nice!”

This woman paced the sidelines after the first game or two, and yelled things like, “Hit him!  Don’t let him knock you down!  Move your feet!  Block him out!”   She would deny it under oath, but I swear I heard her say, “You better hurt that boy!”

Now I know she didn’t want her son to be violent.  And she knows nothing about football.  But after she began learning a little, she at least realized this:  If her son just stands there, he’s going to get his head knocked off.  And he’s going to let the team down.  So he must be aggressive.  He must be strong.  And he must understand the objective of the opponent, and stop him.

It’s a good object lesson for Christians.   So many of us are just standing around, posing.  We look like players, but we’re really just wearing the clothes and looking pretty.  Meanwhile, the enemy is charging over the line, wreaking havoc on our teammates.   Our kids are still getting messed up with drugs.  They’re still falling to the immorality of the age.  Our politicians continue to pass regulation that favors the anti-god crowd.  Schools have gone completely anti-religion.  And we’re posing.  

We need to get mean. We need to be violent.  In the sense that the verse says, “The kingdom suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.”  When Paul wrote, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand,” he was letting us know that we have all the equipment we need to win.  We just need to put it on and get in the game.  And get violent.