"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Is It Race or Religion that Motivates to Behead?

In Memory of Colleen Hufford
Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn speculated today that "race may have played a bigger role than religion" when it came to Alton Nolen cutting off his co-workers head in Norman, Oklahoma.

I am not sure why it is that people have a hard time believing that religious fanaticism can lead a person to decapitate an innocent victim in the United States. I would expect more boldness and common sense from someone like Greg Mashburn. In an interview with media today, the District Attorney said several enlightening things that would seem lead to the opposite conclusion to which the D.A. arrived.

The woman beheaded, Colleen Hufford, died at her place of work. A woman, a grandmother, a citizen of Oklahoma was decapitated. The D.A. responsible for seeking the death penalty of her murderer has now publicly said, "race may have played a bigger role than religion."

Really? Listen to District Attorney Greg Mashburn's own words and then decide for yourself what seems to be the motivation for Alton Nolen decapitating an innocent woman and seeking to do the same thing to another woman before being shot.
"It is clear that Nolen had an infatuation with beheadings."
"It was a (personal knife) and not a company knife." 
"The defendant severed the victim’s head from her body."
"Nolen openly admitted to ‘beheading’ the first victim with a knife and cutting and attempting to ‘behead’ the second victim with the knife.”
"Nolen was using some Arabic terms during the attack."
Just a little research into radical Islamic terrorism might actually lead the D.A. to the opposite conclusion.  It's time we wake up to the fact that fundamental, radical Islamists want to lop off the heads of infidels. And sadly, that kind of radical religious zealotry is infiltrating the United States.

Alton Nolan As He Is Today (2014), Not Yesteryear

The post I wrote last Saturday morning entitled We Face a Monstrous Evil: Terrorism in Oklahoma seems to have struck a chord. Most people understand that the post draws attention to radical Islam, which seems to have infested the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. Chopping off the head of a woman is an act of brutal terrorism. The beheading of innocent men and women is taking place around the world in regional pockets where radical Islam has taken hold. Some who've read my post  objected by saying "I've seen Alton's picture in the Washington Post. How can you call Alton Nolan a radical Islamic terrorist? He's a clean cut all-American kid!" Answer: The Washington Post and other major national newspapers are showing old pictures of Alton Nolan. Alton became radicalized while attending a mosque in Oklahoma City in recent years.

I wish our national media would start paying attention to details. Alton Nolan made no bones about the fact he was a radical Islamist. He let people know through his social footprint on Facebook his feelings about infidels who reject Sharia and the Islamic caliphate. He openly called for the downfall of America's government. He beheaded an innocent woman, not immediately after being fired (as the media initially reported), but after going home and preparing to kill.

Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech yesterday, "The Nazis believed in a master race. The militant Islamists believe in a master faith." The Prime Minister of Israel is right. The monstrous evil in our midst is a group of radical Islamists who believe that everybody should believe like them or else. Our media needs to get on board in reporting the truth as it is. Sometimes the truth hurts, but we are better off as a nation hearing the truth than having it whitewashed it for the sake of political correctness.

Alton Nolan 2014
Alton Nolan 2010






We Face a Monstrous Evil: Terrorism in Oklahoma

Before anyone calls me a hate-mongering Islamaphobic because of the title of this post, let me remind everyone that I have many Muslim friends. I have spoken on several occasions to Muslim gatherings, and I believe all Muslims in America should enjoy freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and every other liberty that Americans cherish. Now with that those obligatory caveats out of the way, let me get to the point.

Alton Nolen, the man who beheaded 54-year-old grandmother Colleen Huford and was in the process of beheading other women in his former workplace in Moore, Oklahoma before he was shot by an off-duty reserve deputy, is a radical Muslim terrorist. He is shown in the picture above standing in front of the  Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City building in northwest Oklahoma City three weeks before he beheaded Mrs. Hufford. Nolen's Facebook page was updated with a photo of a beheading around the same time period.

According to this report, Nolen attended the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City three weeks before the beheading and posted on his Facebook, "At The Masjid (Mosque)Today For Jumar 9/5/2014 & Peforming Wudu!!!” Wudu is a water ritual in preparation for formal prayers. Suhaib Webb, an Imam with ties to former Al Qaeda mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki, served as the leader of the Islamic Society in OKC in years past. Suhaib Webb now serves as Imam of the sister organization of the mosque attended by Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Let that sink in for a moment before I show you where the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City is located.



The large intersection in the map above is that of Interstate 44 (east/west) and what we in Oklahoma City call Hefner Parkway (north/south). The circle to the left of the map is the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. Anybody know what the circle to the right is? It is the state headquarters for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

In the state that had not one county with a majority vote for Barak Obama in the last election, in the state known for its large population of evangelicals, in the state that promotes the values of individual liberty and kindness to one's fellow man, in the state in which I was born and have lived all my adult life, we have a mosque with ties to radical Islamic terrorism just a couple of miles away from the state headquarters of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Read carefully for yourself the ties to the Muslim Brotherhood within Oklahoma City. After reading, I'd like to ask you a few questions.

(1). Who was the bomber who accidentally detonated the bomb he was carrying and killed himself in 2005 while waiting to enter Oklahoma's Memorial Stadium during an Oklahoma football game, and what were his ties to radical Islam?
(2). Why are so few people taking seriously Timothy McVeigh's ties to radical Islam in the months prior to bombing of the Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995? For more information about McVeigh's radical Muslim ties, read Stephen Jones' Others Unknown. Mr. Jones was McVeigh's attorney, but was fired because McVeigh 'wanted sole credit for the bombing' and didn't like the work his attorney was doing in uncovering the Muslim radicals who assisted  McVeigh. The OKC bombing had extreme parallels to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
(3). Have you ever been told the number of Oklahoma detainees held by the Justice Department after the World Trade Center bombing in 2001?  According to my friends in law enforcement, there were several Islamic radicals in the Oklahoma City area who had ties to the World Trade Center hijackers, many of whom were held in jail and interrogated for months.

Winston Churchill had a difficult time convincing the world that Nazism was a 'monstrous evil' in 1940. We are living in a day when too many in leadership are having trouble getting their heads around the 'monstrous evil' in our midst. The fight against radical Islam is no longer something overseas. The evil is amongst us. With that in mind, Oklahomans ought to consider the following:

(1). Don't begrudge the increased security and very thorough checks of purses, bags, and other items when you enter Thunder games, or Oklahoma football games, or other public events. There's a reason for all this, and I'm not sure Joe Public understands the serious nature of what is happening.
(2). Maybe an apology ought to be issued from those who castigated our state congressmen for passing a law that forbids Sharia Law from ever taking effect in the state of Oklahoma, a law reversed by the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Maybe we ought to elect more politicians who are not afraid to call it like it is and consider removing judges who seek to legislate from the bench.
(3). Women in our state should become informed activists when it comes to opposing radical Islam, and you should do it now. Run for city council. Run for the local school board. Campaign hard for people who represent your values, particularly those who understand that women have a role to play in leadership within our society.

According to co-workers at Vaughn Foods where Colleen Huford lost her head this week, Alton Nolen was arguing in the previous days about the legitimacy of stoning women for offenses against Allah and the Koran.

We face a monstrous evil. It is the radical, fundamental Islamists who demand subservience to Islam, a world caliphate, and death to those who oppose them. I know from experience that not all Muslims teach this or believe this, but until we wake up to the evil in our midst, we will find ourselves with more shed blood in the grocery aisles of our communities.

The above photo is not the result of work place violence. It is the result of Islamic radicals terrorizing our great state. Until the government owns the problem, we will find ourselves in ever increasing levels of terrorism within our borders.

Avoiding the Herostratic Temptation of Christian Blogging

The Gerasa Temple of Artemis
In early 1863 John Wilkes Booth told James H. McVicker, a fellow actor and manager of McVicker's Theater in Chicago, that there would be a "glorious opportunity for a man to immortalize himself by killing Lincoln." The statement, made a full year before Booth actually assassinated the nation's 16th President, included a historical reference which seems to justify Booth's intentions. He told McVickers:
"The ambitious youth who fired the Ephesian dome outlives in fame the pious fool who reared it." (Source: The Detroit Free Press, April 18, 1865)
Booth never attended college, but his understanding of ancient history would surpass most college graduates today. The 'dome' to which Booth refers was the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Nobody knows the name of the one who built it, but the name of the one who destroyed it by fire is infamous.

Herostratus (pronounced 'hero-stra'- tus) torched the Temple of Artemis on July 21, 356 BC, the very night Alexander the Great was born, prompting Plutarch to speculate that Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander's delivery to save her burning temple. The Ephesians sentenced Herostratus to death and forbade anyone from mentioning his name; but the world, just as Booth suggested to his friend, seems to exalt the names of those who destroy rather than those who build.

The name Herostratus is now used in languages around the world for those who are seeking fame at any cost, something called herostratic fame.

There is the temptation in all of us to gravitate toward the fame associated with destroying what others built. The kingdom is being built by God's people. Sometimes the craftsmanship of what is being built is shoddy. Other times the builders themselves are flawed. Blogging has done Christians a great service in helping us understand the issues and problems within the Kingdom.

However, I don't wish to be a Booth. It's never my desire to be known for tearing down what others have built, regardless of how dysfunctional it may be. I'd rather be known for what I'm for rather than for what I'm against. I'd rather people understand what to build and how to build, rather than what needs burned and how to burn it.

I'm not sure, however, that most people enjoy reading how something's built. For example, in my last article on James McDonald and how he wrongly (in my view) invests spiritual authority in elders, there were 'thousands' of hits from all over the world. However, toward the end of the article I offered a solution to the problem by posting a PDF that explains how to have a church where Christ alone is understand to have all spiritual authority. There were only a few hundred downloads of the object which would help build something good.

Regardless, it's my desire to never expose a problem (as I see it) without offering a solution. I'd rather be unknown and try to build something good for the Kingdom than be the famous guy who is well-known for destroying what someone else has built, regardless of how dysfunctional the building is.

You Can't Forgive Foolishness: James McDonald on 'Spiritual Authority' Invested in the Church Elders

Christianity Today reports that James McDonald, pastor of Chicago's multi-campus Harvest Bible Church, has apologized to his church for the public discipline of three elders last year. The elders were disciplined in September 2013 after speaking out against a “culture of fear and intimidation” and a lack of transparency in the church, including their concerns over nearly 60 million dollars in construction debt.

Pastor McDonald and a majority of the elder board publicly disciplined the three elders. In speaking to the church about these men in September 2013, the elders and Pastor James McDonald were very expressive and deliberate in describing these three men to the congregation at Harvest Bible Chapel. They used phrases like:
*"What the men are saying is Satanic to the core and must be dealt with very directly."
 *“We warn the people of Harvest Bible Chapel to separate themselves from these false messengers."
*Please avoid these former Harvest elders at all costs lest you incur great detriment to your own soul.”
Unless you have been on the receiving end of intentional character assassination from leaders of an institution who are fearful that you may disrupt their plans, it is difficult to imagine the pain inflicted on these three 'disciplined' elders and their families, as well as the damage done to their reputations. Harvest Bible Chapel members should be grateful that their pastor apologized for the above character assassination statements, and should forgive him based upon his repentance.

Unfortunately, the real problem at Harvest Bible Chapel has yet to be addressed. The people of HBC should be asking the question: "Why were we our elders ever in the position of making such statements about these three men to us in the first place?"

The answer to that question is seen in the foolish theology regarding 'spiritual authority' held by the pastor and elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. Their views can be clearly seen in the prefacing words Pastor James McDonald used when the majority of elders publicly disciplined the three minority elders in September 2013 (you may watch the actual video if you desire):
"I just want to remind you that God has entrusted spiritual authority to the local church."
"We believe that (this) authority of the church is invested in the elders."
"When the elders speak collectively in agreement, they speak for God to our church."
"That's about as serious as serious gets."
"These elders are now going to speak on behalf of God to our entire church."
The elders then proceeded to explain why the minority caucus of elders in their midst were 'Satanic to the core,' were 'false messengers,' and everyone was to avoid them lest "you incur great detriment to your own soul."

Truth be known, Harvest Bible Chapel members, the problem at your church is not that three men were publicly disciplined because they were asking for greater transparency and financial accountability. The problem is that you have leaders who tell you that when they speak they are speaking on behalf of God. That's yet to be addressed.

Spiritual authority, according to Jesus, is never invested in titles, positions of power (think elders), or other offices within an institutional church. Jesus was clear about this.
"Jesus called all the followers together. Jesus said, "You know that the rulers of the non-Jewish people love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority over the people. But it should not be that way with you. If one of you wants to become great, then he must serve you like a servant" (Matt. 20:25-26).
The apology that still needs to occur to the people and congregation of Harvest Bible Chapel would sound like this:

(1). We apologize for saying that we always speak for God, when the truth is, we are all susceptible to our own personal agendas, our own selfish desires, and other inner conflicts that sometimes prevent us from ever hearing from, much less speaking for, our God.
(2). We apologize for teaching you that spiritual authority is invested in titles and positions within the local church, rather the New Testament truth that spiritual authority is always invested in the giftings, service, and love of Christ's people, regardless of title or position.
(3). We apologize for setting up ourselves as vicars of God on your behalf. Though we told you in September 2013 that it we were speaking for God, it should be obvious to you that (a). God never makes mistakes, and (b). God never has to apologize. We repent of thinking more about our positions and titles than what God thinks of them.

Now that would be a refreshing New Testament apology. However, Pastor McDonald and the elders don't yet see that the real problem is their view of 'spiritual authority.' In my opinion, the greatest problem within the evangelical Christian church is this foolishness regarding spiritual authority.

I'm not sure you can forgive foolishness until it is at least uncovered and called what it is. For help with the New Testament teaching of spiritual authority in the local church download this free PDF.

'The Identical,' Shoddiness, and Faith Shaming

Periodically I vent when I write. I truly don't like it, but sometimes inner irritation bursts out like 'Old Faithful's' waters. Prepare yourself for a written geyser.

The faith-based family move The Identical is currently in theaters. It features some well known Hollywood actors, including Ray Loitta and Ashley Judd.  Last night my wife and I were thinking about going to see a movie, and I did a quick search on reviews of The Identical. Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the movie a 5% rating, one of the lowest ever in the history of the movie review service. Interestingly, the audience gave the movie a respectable 76% rating. I thought we might go based upon the audience appraisals.

As I began to read the reviews, I thought something along these lines, "Well, maybe Hollywood just doesn't understand faith-based, family value movies like The Identical."

Then I read that Christianity Today gave The Identical one star out of five.  The review is worth reading. Words like 'lame,' 'surreal,' and 'odd' are sprinkled throughout the review. Again, not having seen the movie, I am not passing judgment, just information. Christianity Today's review gives a synopsis The Identical in four closing paragraphs which are worth quoting:
Weirdest of all, when Ryan  has a rock-bottom moment and goes to a bar and orders a whiskey (thus proving it’s a genuine “rock-bottom moment”), he is confronted and comforted by a dwarf. The little man, played by Danny Woodburn (an actor with dwarfism best known for his Seinfeld role as Kramer’s volatile friend Mickey), actually says to Ryan, “You’re lookin’ for somethin’, aren’t you? Let me give you a hint, Ryan Wade. It ain’t here. But keep lookin’. You’ll find it eventually.”
It’s lame dialogue, yes. But you won’t really care. Because you’ll be dwelling on the fact that there was a specific filmmaking choice to have a dwarf, shorter than the barstool, suddenly appear out of thin air, just to give a pep talk to our hero at the film’s climactic moment. It’s so strange and surreal and startling, it’s as if Rhett Butler had said, “Frankly, my dear, pull my finger.” Or if Darth Vader had told Luke, “I am your father’s chiropractor.” It’s just head-shakingly odd.
 If you really want to see a great movie about twins separated at birth, re-watch Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Or either version of The Parent Trap.In press materials, The Identical describes itself as “a redemptive movie,” “a captivating story about a family restored, and a life discovered,” and “a drama . . . that powerfully explores two questions that constantly tug at our souls: ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What am I here for?’”
But it doesn’t answer the question that’s tugging at mine: When I hit rock bottom, will a kindly, wise, cliché-spouting, hippie dwarf come and save me too?
Ouch.

Surprisingly, I was still inclined to see the movie, even after reading Christianity Today's review. What soured me, and what gave rise to my inner angst was an article I read by an irreverent comedian who took to task the movie's producers. I found myself agreeing with the irreverent comedian.

The producers of The Identical are telling Christians that 'The Identical" is a wonderful faith-based, family movie! They are putting the first 15 minutes of the movie on-line - for free - and declaring:
Mainstream film critics did not care for ‘The Identical,’ while Christian reviewers and audiences loved the movie. We are putting the first fifteen minutes online to let you decide for yourself.
I went to the official website for The Identical. Immediately I was turned off. Like many modern evangelical Christians, the producers of The Identical seem to be under the impression that if you make a movie that doesn't glorify sex or violence, make use of generous profanity, or flaunt nudity, then Christians should love the movie!

Not even close.

Aristotle once said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." C.S. Lewis quoted Aristotle, and then opined, "The devil understands this well. Thus his strategy is to gently nudge us in the wrong direction. He knows that if we truly saw where we were headed, we would immediately turn away. So, he just softly leads us in the wrong direction, knowing that momentum is a difficult thing to change."

Christian filmmaking seems to be headed in the wrong direction. Evangelicals seem to have not yet developed the habit of producing excellent films, settling for shaky dialogue, shoddy acting, and sharing the belief that Christians will be 'shamed' into seeing such Christian movies because we are in a 'culture war.'

That doesn't motivate me. Evangelical Christians above all others should be producing the most stunning artistic expressions of film and music that our world experiences!  Think of Bach and Beethoven. Think of Tolkien and Lewis. Forget the division between 'secular and sacred." If the universe is all God's then the arts are all His and are sacred.

It is the cheesy that denigrates God, and demotivates me to see a movie. Cheesiness is just as cheesy whether it comes wrapped in nudity or fully clothed people; with hellish curses or mind-numbing banal blessings that both take God's name in vain; with gruesome violence or cheesy heavenly visions. I don't wish to see cheesy, even if the package comes wrapped with a faith-based, family bow around it. Even more, I'll never go see a movie where Christian producers shame me into believing I should see it - in spite of its shoddiness - because we are in a 'culture war.'

After reading the attempts by the producers of The Identical to shame Christians into seeing it, I came to the conclusion I have more in common with an irreverent comedian than I do reverent Christians when it comes to watching poorly crafted movies. Give me professionalism. Give me excellence. Don't make an excuse for the absence of either, particularly if you are a follower of Jesus Christ who radiates the glory of God and sustains the universe by the power of His Word.

He deserves better.

And so do we.






Help for Team Enid and the 2014 FIREBALL RUN

America's 2014 FIREBALL RUN (September 26 to October 4, 2014) is a gripping and emotional 8 day, 2,000 mile, life-sized trivia game, where America serves as the game board and 40 driving teams compete for glory, bragging rights, and a plastic road sign.

The mission of the race is a massive nationwide effort to recover America's missing children.

The race is streamed live to a world-audience and begins in Frisco, Texas and ends in Independence Missouri. Enid, Oklahoma is one of just 8 city destinations during the race, serving as Chapter 4 in the FIREBALL RUN. All forty race teams and a nationwide audience will be in Enid, Oklahoma on Tuesday, September 30, 2014.

Enid, Oklahoma also has a team in the race. Dr. David Vanhooser and Aaron Brownlee will be driving a 2009 Aston Martin in the race, representing the city of Enid.

Team Enid needs your help!

The race revolves around the teams being given clues from a list of 2,500 TRIVIA questions regarding America's frontier. The team that solves the trivia questions the quickest has a distinct advantage in getting to the finish line first. No car can exceed the speed limit (monitored by the race and penalties for exceeding the speed limit), so the only true advantage is solving the trivia questions faster than the other teams.

I am leading the TEAM ENID'S TRIVIA TEAM, and I need your help. If you would be available to receive private Facebook Messages from Team Enid's Website from Sunday afternoon, September 28 through the end of the race on Friday, October 3, 2014 and help solve the trivia questions given to the racers, then I need you to sign up to be a part of Enid's Trivia Team. The messages will be PRIVATE to keep other teams from taking advantage of our collective brain power.

If you can help, please CLICK ON THIS WEBSITE (Team Enid's Facebook Page) and send a FRIEND REQUEST - Let us know in the 'comment column' that you will help us by serving on the Trivia Team. Then, Shelby Unruh, Communications Director at Wymer Brownlee, will add you to a PRIVATE PAGE of TEAM ENID'S FACEBOOK PAGE

During the race, you will receive Trivia Questions and we simply ask that you respond on TEAM ENID'S PRIVATE FACEBOOK PAGE  with appropriate answers!  It's that simple. If there are multiple good answers, it will ultimately be my responsibility to determine the BEST answer - and send our racers on their way!

Come on Facebook peeps! I have friends all over the nation (and you have friends too) who are excellent at trivia!

Let's lead TEAM ENID TO VICTORY and win the national 2014 FIREBALL RUN!

And possibly help find a missing child!



Hear ISIL and Share 'Israel's Statehood Is Lasting'

There is a growing controversy on the Internet due to President Barak Obama's use of the acronym ISIL in referring to the brutal terrorist organization most commonly referred to as ISIS. Some are proposing that Mr. Obama is intentionally denigrating Israel by using ISIL, which stands for “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" rather than ISIS, which stands for "“Islamic State in Iraq and Syria." Al-Jeezera, the Islamic broadcasting arm of most Arab Muslims, solely uses ISIL in their media broadcasts.

The word 'levant' comes from the French language and means "rising." In ancient history, the word was used to refer to the lands where "the rising of the sun" occurred, or more generally, the eastern lands. However, it is a word that Muslims have historically used to refer to the land bridge between Africa and Europe (see map). Most Muslims believe the Jews have no rights to Levant land and refuse to recognize Israel as a state. ISIL is an acronym that some believe calls into question Israel's right to exist as an independent state.

The southern part of the Levant was once called the land of  Canaan, and the people who lived their were known as the Canaanites. When the Jews conquered Canaan after leaving their Egyptian captivity under the leadership of Moses and Joshua,  the land became known as "the land of Israel" (eretz Israel). Israel stretched from  Dan to Beersheba during Old Testament times, about 150 miles north and south along the Levant landbridge. When Rome defeated the Jews during the Jewish Wars of the 1st Century AD, the Romans renamed the region Palestina, after Israel’s most bitter enemy (the Philistines), to humiliate the Jews. The word Palestine comes from the Latin Palestina which means “land of the Philistines.”

So, it seems throughout history, Israel has been slighted by their enemies. It very well could be that ISIL is a slight against Israel. However, the prestigious Journal of Levantine Studies is published by Jews in Jerusalem, so one cannot be dogmatic that the word "Levant" is an insult to the Jews themselves.

Regardless, for those who believe ISIL is an insult to Israel, I propose every time ISIL is used to refer to the Caliphate that radical Muslims are attempting to establish, we should share with others- -

ISRAEL'S STATEHOOD IS LASTING!