Author Archives: Dr. Richard J. Alberta
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NIV) Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong,but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
On May 22, 1856, the United States Senate became a war zone. A member of the House of Representatives arrived, cane in hand, and approached Senator Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Republican from Massachusetts. After a rather cheerless exchange, South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks raised his metal-topped cane and began to pummel Sumner about the head. Sumner was carried out with blood flowing profusely down over his face; Brooks retired from the House a few days later. The brutalized senator recovered after a while and served eighteen more years. Feelings ran strongly in those days.
Anyone reading history knows this is nothing new. That does not make it right or acceptable. But it is not new. In 1919, Teddy Roosevelt stepped down from the Presidency and helped his longtime friend William Howard Taft secure the office as his replacement. Within a few years, TR decided he wanted it back and began to attack Taft in ways that would embarrass all of us. The same way Senator McCarthy did in the early 1950’s, spewing out accusations against anyone he deemed a Communist sympathizer. Prompting another Senator to ask him on live TV “Have you no shame, sir?”
Recently, California Representative Maxine Waters called for open attacks on those who support President Trump. At dinner. In their homes. Anywhere. Major Hollywood celebrities open speeches with filthy comments presented with fury about the President and the audience stands and applauds. A “comedian” holds up a Trump head bleeding after decapitation and then complains that he has ruined her. You know all of this. It goes on and on.
Now, I like what President Trump has done in terms of policies. I am thrilled that he will get to appoint another Supreme Court Justice. The economy is strong, especially yielding low unemployment in the minority communities. We really must deal with border security. He may actually get somewhere with the North Koreans. New protections for the unborn. All good. BUT Mr. Trump has done very little to calm the incivility at home. Childish rants about those who oppose him are truly nonsensical and immature. He seems to have very little awareness of the cost to his dignity and the Office of the Presidency when he acts like a school yard bully.
Evangelicals are regularly criticized for defending him. I have been. And I am certain that if he walked on the water and cured cancer the same day, his opponents would find fault. But he really has brought on some of this vitriol by his own words and careless comments. We must pray for him. Pray that he has a complete and thorough conversion experience with the Risen Christ. Pray that if he really is a Christian (as some people say he is) it will begin to show up in his manners…not when he is being agreeable but when he is attacked. I pray for the day I might see Christ in him. I pray he might follow the Word of God expressed through the Apostle Paul:
1 Thessalonians 5:15 (NIV) “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”
And this note of timeless wisdom for all of us:
Proverbs 10:19 (NIV) “ When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.”
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
“A Christian Perspective on the Immigration Crisis Zero Tolerance-Children and Parents Being Separated”
Nehemiah 2:17 (NIV) 17 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”
Jerusalem had walls. The ancients knew the danger of unchecked immigration. They were to be compassionate for sure. But smart. And realistic. We read in Nehemiah 4:13 that some workers stood with weapons to guard others who were doing the re-building work. The reality of sin and evil were known to God’s people.
Walls. The Old Testament speaks of “walls” 94 times in the NIV version. People groups have always built walls. Most walls are designed to keep people out. One exception was post-World War Two Germany where the Berlin Wall was built to keep people in! In any case, walls are as much a reality in every society as are locks on doors. In a world filled with evil-doers, man builds walls. Sensible nations have always been careful about who is welcomed; reality is that from ancient times forward man has put up walls.
In our national discussion about immigration and whom we should welcome into America, the views range from anyone who wants to come in to nearly no one. But it is not appreciated that we have always had barriers and requirements. My paternal grandfather Benedetto came to Ellis Island. N.Y. in 1899 from Sicily. Even a quick study of the protocols in use at that time makes it clear many people were turned away. Disease. Criminal records. It did not take much for the would-be immigrant to be sent back home. For an interesting movie touching on this subject, I recommend the film “Brooklyn” about a young woman from Ireland who comes to America in the nineteen thirties. The scene where she applies for entry having crossed the Atlantic is interesting. There were and are requirements. Despite the words on the Statue of Liberty, many were turned away.
We have been swamped by opinions about the immigration crisis on America’s southern border. The current administration has insisted on “zero-tolerance” for the crime of illegal entry. That has resulted in the separation, in some cases, of children from their parents. Sometimes. Despite most of the media coverage, this problem goes way back before this President. In fact, many of the most heartbreaking photographs that we have seen are from 2014 and farther back. Yet, previously there was little to no outcry about the children and where they were being “held.” As usual, this is non-stop politics on steroids.
The problem has always been far more complicated than some people suggest. I say that because the border personnel report that many times they cannot tell if the adults with children are actually their parents. Beyond that, five out of six children are not accompanied by any adult. Again, the entire problem began years ago. The media often invite people to think it just began with the current administration but children in separated facilities has been the policy of many years.
This issue is sometimes presented as quite simple. But crossing the border, integrated with immigrants are sometimes MS-13 criminals, drug cartel leaders and soldiers, sex trade entrepreneurs and other violent criminals. In other words, unless one advocates completely open borders, as some people do…the borders are a nightmare. We need to pray for wisdom and the development of sensible solutions.
Turning to the spiritual dimension….am I as a Christian comfortable with the idea of open borders as the outworking of my love for Christ? I most certainly am not. Am I lacking compassion because I do not support open borders? I do not lack compassion. But, as a Christian, I have responsibilities to the innocent and to common sense.
Inevitably the question reduces to “What would Jesus do?” It is too bold to suggest I know what Jesus would do. But I have some thoughts as to what Jesus might say in this discussion. As a preface, let me suggest that Jesus was and is often badly misunderstood. It is popular to see Jesus as the always-gentle and gracious and tolerant Son of God carrying lambs on his shoulders and holding hands with children. But Jesus was often very tough and direct. Jesus made a whip of cords to chase the merchants out of the Temple. Jesus was not afraid to call evil men “white washed tombs!” Jesus was first and foremost the ultimate agent of justice. Jesus was keenly aware when he was with us in the flesh that the world is filled with evil. Jesus was a realist. Jesus knows the reality of wickedness and horror on Earth. When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, he defended his disciples and insisted they be unharmed. Why? Because we have a responsibility to protect the innocent.
Jesus was the embodiment of compassion but also of Justice. He very definitely did not take offense because some people were excluded from Israel. The plight of the leper in the ancient world is well documented. They were excluded and so were their children. Would Jesus have argued that they should simply be admitted without any concern as to the danger in doing so? Certainly not. Jesus was a realist.
Jesus also hated hypocrisy and lies. The current outcry about a need for a policy change regarding immigrants is real…and important. These policies must be improved. But those who are most vocal seem to say nothing of the problems on the border with rape and crime and murder. I think, as a Christian, that we must protect the innocent and demand that the law be enforced.
And one last thought. I find it typically ironic and nauseating that almost all of the progressives demanding open borders and crying the loudest about children being harmed…are themselves supporters of abortion. We hear many of them take on the mantel of theologian when they obviously are unfamiliar with the main themes of Scripture. It is boorish to hear ungodly people quote the Word of God. Some go as far as to call anyone opposing their views to be equivalent to Nazis! But they continue to support crushing the skulls of the unborn…tearing off their limbs and/or burning off their skin. And this is the true holocaust that dwarfs anything happening at the borders. But not a word of protest.
As a Christian, I’d like the needy immigrant, adult or child, to be welcomed into America once they are properly vetted and in compliance with the law. And as a Christian, I would like the shameless media to repent of their deception, such as putting the President on the cover of Time with a small child with the caption “Welcome to America.” The cover suggests that the little girl was separated from her parents. When her father pointed out that was untrue, and she was happily with her family, Time did not apologize. When the media used photos of children in cages and unpleasant holding areas, they neglected to say that some of the photos were from 2010.
Yes, Jesus would care very much about needy immigrants. And Jesus would expect us to protect our own citizens even as we help the needy towards better lives. So would you and I. Jesus was compassionate. But Jesus was a compassionate realist. And he might say that some of the most vocal screamers about separated children are white washed tombs. Why? Because they cry out about 2000 children separated from parents … but they refuse to care about 2000 children everyday killed in the womb.
Sad. Pray for our nation.
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
“Did the Christian Baker Actually Win His Case?” (Get Ready. Things Are About to Get More Complicated!) June 10, 2018
Exodus 10:21 (NIV) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand
toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt
–darkness that can be felt.”
In a nicer world, two gay men about to be married would walk into a bakery owned by a Christian cakemaker. They would ask to discuss a wedding cake and he would politely tell them that his religious beliefs prevent him from decorating a “gay wedding” cake although he would gladly bake it. Just not provide the desired artwork. But, he would suggest, there are seven other bake shops in town and he knows of several who would gladly provide such a cake. At that point, the gay couple might say “Oh, ok…understood. We respect your views and we thank you for your guidance. We will go to one of the other shops.” Then the Christian baker would offer them good wishes, and everyone would be satisfied.
But what if the gay couple’s motives were to challenge the law and the Christian baker? What if they are not willing to go to another bakeshop but want him to do it? What if they really want to possibly ruin his business because of his views on homosexuality and gay marriage? That is what happened in Colorado in 2012 when Jack Philips declined to bake a wedding cake with artistic decorations celebrating a gay marriage. In the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Philips was found to be in violation of a civil rights law and fined accordingly. This last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission had violated Mr. Philip’s First Amendment Rights of religious expression and ruled in his favor. Many Christians celebrated but many legal observers said, “Not so Fast!”
It is interesting to look at the ruling itself. It seems animated by the contempt that the commission showed to Mr. Philips. Perhaps if they had been respectful and ruled on the precise issue of discrimination, the court might have ruled otherwise. I certainly do not know. But I am left wondering about this case. And…I am uncertain how the Christian baker will fare in the years ahead as we live in a world where “The darkness can be felt.”
I am a thorough-going, Christ-centered evangelical but I am somewhat puzzled at this situation. Of course, we Christians all want the baker to be given some slack. And we get it. We would not expect a Jewish printer to do business with a Nazi group planning a rally…or a black carpenter to build the reviewing stands for a Klan meeting. People should have the right to say, “I’m not interested in doing business with you.” But…how far can this go on religious grounds. How important is it to ask if the religious man’s scruples are “sincere?”
What if he or she sincerely believes that the Bible teaches African-Americans are inferior and therefore he does not wish to do business with them? What if he believes that Presbyterians are of the devil and he refuses to serve them…based on some convoluted interpretation of Scripture? Can we contemplate the Supreme Court Justices sitting with open Bibles trying to see if the merchant has rational and “sincere” views?
Can the Christian Ford dealer refuse to sell cars to Muslims because Islam teaches that Jesus did not die on the Cross? Are we not caught in a hopeless theological/philosophical cull de sac when we allow merchants in the open marketplace to discriminate based on their religious views?
I sense that Mr. Philips is a fine Christian brother. I do not wish to judge his way of doing things. Yet…I’m wondering if such actions do more harm than good for the sake of the Gospel. After all, he is willing to make a cake for their wedding but not write on it? He argued that the latter would compromise his creative talents in accordance with his First Amendment rights. He does not wish to communicate his “approval” of the gay union. But when it becomes known that the cake is from his bakeshop…and it will be known by the wedding guests…. does that not suggest he is “approves” of the wedding? This whole thing is confusing.
It would be nice, as we said earlier, if the gay couple would simply go to another bakeshop and not try to force their will on the baker. As Charles Krauthammer once observed the gay movement has gained every significant policy change it sought in America but they are “sore winners.” It is never enough for some of them. So, this couple was obviously looking for a fight over the issue of their wedding and their homosexual lifestyle.
In short, I sense that our witness as Christians is not enhanced by such a hassle with the gay community. Yet, we are living in a time when the “Darkness can be felt!” How to shine the light of Christ into it? But perhaps the larger point….is the baker’s right to respect himself. Interesting. I don’t envy him. Your thoughts?
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
“Through its corporate donations, Starbucks contributes to one of the most racist organizations in our nation’s history…Planned Parenthood operates the nation’s largest chain of abortion facilities, and almost 80 per cent of its facilities are in minority neighborhoods. About 13 per cent of American women are black, but they have more than 35 per cent of the abortions.”
Dr. Alveda King, Washington Examiner, May 29, 2018
Margaret Sanger, the evil genius behind Planned Parenthood…the one who said, “We must rid the world of morons, misfits and the maladjusted” (see her hard to find book “The Pivot of Civilization”) and who had no interest in the well being of blacks and Jews, etc.…. must be delighted with the good folks at Starbucks. She’d be at the drive-thru every morning. While they are “virtue-signaling” by making it known that they are re-training their personnel to be sensitive to minorities and all people (A nice idea) …at the end of the day they support the killing of approximately 275 unborn African-American children…EVERY DAY! (Yes I know that Starbucks claims moral immunity because the funds are generated by matching employee donations to charities. As if that matters. They do not have to agree to such matching contributions to Planned Parenthood. Would they agree to match donations to the Ku Klux Klan?)
So…. while it is nice that they are committed to treating minorities with dignity, they are totally indifferent to babies, black and white and in-between, having their skulls crushed and their arms torn off or their skin burned away. Our current President has put policies in place to impede Planned Parenthood’s holocaust, but I twitch when I stop at Starbucks for an over-priced cup of snob coffee. I must think about this.
Yet…pocketbook protests are problematic too. If we check online which companies support Planned Parenthood, we will feel even more compromised. Shall we all change banks? And stores? And vehicle manufacturers etc.? The list is endless.
We are reminded that the world is corrupted by corporate sin. Is our church’s sound equipment manufactured, in some cases, by repressive labor in distant places? The smart phone? Put together by people, in some cases, living in brutal poverty. The denominational churches at which some people worship? Part of their offerings go to yup…Planned Parenthood.
What to do? I’m not sure. Only make coffee at home but be sure the coffee maker is from a company that is not involved with corporate sin? Probably quite impossible. Here is one idea: at the very least, we can write to the corporate leaders at Starbucks and express our outrage at their support for Planned Parenthood. And they will not change that policy and may not even thank us for the “input.” But we will be consistent with the Word of God that tells us the most robust way to fight evil is with prayer and action! For forty years, I have prayed that God would end abortion in America and worldwide.
And now, in Ireland many citizens are rejoicing that babies may be put to death. Perhaps Starbucks will open more shops. They have many in Ireland. May their customers rejoice with them…until Judgment Day.
Psalm 10:12 (NIV) Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.
Blessings! Pastor Alberta
PS: Yes, I know about Amazon, BOA, Amex, Groupon, et.al. If anyone knows otherwise about any of these and any corporations that have changed their policies, please advise.