“You might hate war, but you have to love the warrior”

Army Staff Sgt. Chris Swanson is coming home from Iraq this week.

He’ll arrive at Dover Air Force Base, where fellow servicemen, in a solemn, deliberate and oft-repeated ceremony, will remove his flag-draped coffin from the belly of a cargo plane.

Sgt. Swanson, a 1999 graduate of Southern High School from Rose Haven, was killed Saturday in an ambush in Anbar. He was 25 years old.

Following visitation sessions Monday and a funeral at his home church in Upper Marlboro on Tuesday morning, he’ll be buried under the watchful eye of the Army’s Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

“This is tough, man, tough,” Gary Swanson, his father, said yesterday sitting next to the sergeant’s mother, Kelly, in their Rose Haven home. “But he was doing what he wanted to do. He loved his country … He could have done anything he wanted, and he chose a noble career.”

Sgt. Swanson was leading his squad from Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, of the 6th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Division on a foot patrol in when he was killed. He’s believed to be the fourth county soldier killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and the 51st from Maryland.

Unconfirmed reports said it was an ambush or a sniper. Initial official reports are more vague.

Sgt. Swanson entered the Army right after graduating from Southern. After basic training he became a paratrooper, serving in the famed 82nd Airborne…

Service was in Sgt. Swanson’s blood. Most of his relatives have spent entire careers in public service, police work, the military and the FBI.

As a youth he spent summers in mission work with the First Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro, where his uncle is youth minister.

“He had role models. The whole family was in public service. They just instilled those traits in him,” Mr. Swanson said.

“He had a serving attitude and a serving heart. When we were on mission trips to Cleveland, Florida, West Virginia … he would always volunteer for the dirtiest jobs.”

“You might hate war, but you have to love the warrior,” Gary Swanson said. “We have to support those who are still over there doing the job.”(Source: The Capital)

I remember being at VBS just a few weeks before Chris went off to boot camp, signing his T-Shirt, seeing him so excited. All of us young kids knew who he was – a soldier. Nothing was “cooler” in our minds. He was friends with everyone he came in contact with, whether you were in 1st grade or an adult.

As friends of this young man and his family, this death has hit home for me and many others at my church. Chris was out on the field, doing the job that many of us can’t do. He died for us — in reality, he took the bullet that that terrorist had meant for us. Although he died so young, his life was one that was not wasted in the least, but used to it’s fullest.

“This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Website in memory of Chris Swanson

A Fight For More Than Life

Abrahan Cherrix is willing to go to jail and perhaps even die just to stand up for what is right. This 6′ 1″, 16-year-old young man knows how not to waste his life.

In 2005, Abraham was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, a curable form of cancer that affects the lymph nodes. In September he began the usual chemotherapy treatment at the Children’s Hospital in Norfolk, VA.

After three months of the usual treatment, Abraham became bald, nauseated, feverish and weak. “His legs would buckle under him. It pretty much devastated him,” said his mother, Rose, who home schools Abraham and his four siblings. But the doctors reccomended a second round after a year of unsuccessful treatments.

After further investigation and reading, Abraham decided he did not want to undergo another round of treatment. He decided to take an alternative route, using the Hoxsey method, following a sugar-free, organic diet and taking an herbal remedy four times each day.

According to Peter Chowka of www.naturalhealthline.com, “the Hoxsey Therapy is the oldest continuously used unconventional or alternative nontoxic cancer therapy in North America. Ironically, from the 1920s until recently, it was usually vilified as the leading example of medical quackery in modern times.”

But many have attested to the therapy’s healing power. And Abraham Cherrix believes in it.

“This is my body that I’m supposed to take care of,” Abraham said. “I studied. I did research. I came to this conclusion that the chemotherapy was not the route I wanted to take.”

But Judge Jesse Demps does not believe that Abraham or his parents have this right, and they have been ordered to report to the hospital by 1:00 today – a time that has already passed.

Abraham Cherrix, 16, and his father, Jay Cherrix told Your NewsChannel 3 they will not report to Childrens’ Hospital of the King’s Daughters by a court-ordered deadline of 1p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Instead, the family will be in conference with an Accomack County Circuit Court judge asserting their right to a brand new trial.

If the Circuit Court upholds the lower court’s ruling, Cherrix’ parents may be held in contempt of court. That means Cherrix’ parents could face additional charges or perhaps jail time.

Abraham’s father, Jay Cherrix, is prepared for the consequences of violating the court order.

“I’m not going to be an obstacle to my son. If a judge wants to throw me in jail, then he’s going to have to do that.”

This time of tribulation has been hard on the family, and it has brought out many scary implications for families across the nation.

“It’s scary that they can come in and they can do this to you,” said Jay Cherrix, who runs a kayak business next door to the family’s home.

“It’s hard enough to deal with a child having this disease, and then to have to deal with this (court case) as if we were criminals …,” Cherrix said, his voice trailing.

Abraham and his parents believe that a doctor reported them to Social Services for not continuing with chemotherapy, bringing them to the point they are at today. The judge has forbidden the family from leaving Virginia. The judge did allow Abraham and his family to return to the Mexican clinic last month only after the teen had X-rays to assess his disease.

The X-rays showed the chest tumor had grown mildly, Abraham said, adding that he wasn’t surprised because natural treatment takes some time to work its way into the body. He said, though, that he has a lot of energy and feels great.

His father is ready to continue the fight for his son’s life, even though he estimated medical and legal costs have helped put the family $100,000 in debt.

“I am worried because he has cancer,” Cherrix said. “It’s the responsibility of all parents, when their children are sick, to get them the best care that they possibly can.”

“When Abraham got cancer, it devastated all of us,” he continued. “I carried him in from the (chemotherapy) treatments and he looked as if he was a survivor from a concentration camp. We thought many nights we were going to lose him.”

Albert Mohler weighed in on the situation.

“The real issue here is the right of parents — rather than a social worker — to determine the medical treatment of their own children,” he said. “Note carefully that Abraham’s parents have not refused him all medical treatment. He has already undergone one round of arduous chemotherapy. They have allowed him to determine that another round of chemotherapy is not in his own best interest.”

“What is next?” he continued, “This case sends a chilling signal to America’s parents. Christian parents should take special note of this case, for the logic of this court would allow state intrusion into many of the decisions Christian parents make for their own children, ranging from education to discipline.”

“Let us all pray for Abraham Cherrix — a brave young man in the fight of his life.”

“It makes you wonder if Social Services doesn’t have enough to do,” wrote Bronwyn Lance Chester, a writer for The Virginian-Pilot, “Or what kind of world we live in when judges can establish standards of medical treatment and oblige patients to follow them.”

This is not the only story like this. Katie Werneche has gone through a similar trial, and it has ended, so far, well.

Katie Wernecke, who was at the center of a state custody battle last year, was withdrawn from Banquete Junior High School last month and has moved out of state with her father to receive a new alternative cancer treatment.

The 13-year-old eighth-grader and her father, Edward Wernecke, are staying at an undisclosed treatment center out of state where they could be for months, Edward Wernecke said during a brief phone conversation Monday.

Child Protective Services removed Katie from her home in June after her parents refused radiation treatments for Hodgkin’s disease because they feared the potential side effects. Katie was reunited with her parents and three brothers in November after a five-month legal battle that reached the Texas Supreme Court. Ultimately, a district court judge ruled that Katie be returned to her parents and that they be allowed to make all her medical decisions.

What is scary about this issue is really summed up in this quote.

“With the court’s decision on Abraham Cherrix, conventional medicine has once against proven itself to be grounded in tyranny. That oncologists must use intimidation and the threat of arrest to scare patients away from safer, natural treatments is a powerful indicator of the sad state of desperation to which the cancer industry has sunk in order to acquire paying customers.”

I hope I am not being too cynical, but I don’t believe they will ever find a cure for cancer — they wouldn’t make enough money.

Please pray for Abraham, Katie, and others like them who are losing not only a legal battle, but also a battle for their very lives.

To voice your opinion to the judge, call one of his numbers and leave a message for him or ask to speak to him during business hours. Here are his phone numbers: (757)393-2990 or (757) 399-5514. Also, continue to watch The Rebeltion for more updates.

Rick Warren: Antichrist?

This article is written by one of my favorite theology bloggers David Ketter. This young man’s blog, The Account, has been a central place for me to read some well-written material on almost any theological topic I so choose. He knows his Bible, and he knows how to defend his point. Today, I’ve asked him to write this post on Rick Warren in light of some previous posts and criticisms of Slice of Laodicea from myself. I hope they read and truly examine their hearts.

The famous battle between Rick Warren and the Purpose-Driven “PEACE” Corps and extreme “temple police” like Ingrid Schlueter and the Dombrowski’s is coming to a new front: that of eschatology, or the study of the End Times. In some posts, Ingrid Schlueter, in referring to Pastor Warren’s trip to North Korea, has either alluded to or made direct reference to a “possibility” that Rick Warren may indeed be the long-dreaded antichrist.

“America’s new superstar pastor wants to rebrand evangelical Christianity. He’s got the management genius to do it. Here’s where he’s leading his troops.” […] Fortune is only saying what I and so many other concerned Christians have been sayins for several years. Rick Warren believes that he owns Evangelical Christianity. He’s “branding” it with his purpose-driven catch phrase on everything but church carpeting. (link)

Rick Warren’s presence in North Korea, just as its insane dictator Kim Jong II is promising to launch more long range missile tests, is no accident. Rick Warren can then become an international “Man of Peace” and will be in even greater demand among heads of state to bring peace and stability to a violent world. Just like a messiah (false) would. (link)

For someone who is as familiar with theology as Ingrid Schlueter is, I would have hoped for better. Unfortunately, contention within the Body of Christ (something Satan must truly enjoy) can blind us often to the truth of the doctrines of Christ. The “man of peace” designation is very well-known about the antichrist, but it could also apply to just about any major political figure in the past – Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan, included.

Just what are the identifying markers of the antichrist? First, refer to Revelation 13. In this passage, the antichrist is known as “the beast” who comes out of the sea. This tells us a few things in itself. The fact that he comes from the sea refers to Jewish tradition in which the Gentile nations are symbolized by the sea. Thus, the antichrist is a Gentile. The physical description of this beast is even more telling. Among these characteristics are:

• “ten horns” – the horn is a traditional symbol of authority and power. The number ten is traditionally associated with completion or majority. These horns thus represent the fact that antichrist will be the ultimate authority of the human race. The diadems on each head reinforces the fact, as well as demonstrating his unchallenged authority over the nations.

• “seven heads” – the heads represent entities, a traditional representation of leadership or interest. Seven is also associated with fulfillment and unity. The heads then represent the antichrist as representing all forms of life on earth – everybody’s man. The blasphemous names demonstrate the antichrist’s pivotal role in leading the rebellion against God, a rebellion unlike any since the Tower of Babel.

We are offered even further characteristics in 2 Thessalonians 2. The antichrist, in this passage, is thus known as “the man of lawlessness” or “the man of sin,” depending on the translation. Such is this description that reveals to us one key aspect of the antichrist’s moral makeup: an absolute lack of it. In terms that many may find familiar, the antichrist will be the ultimate expression of the doctrine of Total Depravity.

There are many other representations and symbolisms about the antichrist in Scripture – the “little horn” and “great king” of Daniel, the “false Christ” of the Gospel-writers, and simply, the “antichrist.” Take separately, some may indeed describe many men on this planet. Taken together, however, and it is clear that the antichrist is not yet here, and certainly does not speak from the pulpits of the Church. The verdict? Rick Warren could never be the antichrist, even if he desired such an infamous identity.

David Ketter

On Beating the Horse to Death and Playing With Fire

Do any of you remember the yo-yo fad? If you’re over 16, you probably remember almost everyone you knew had a yo-yo, especially the “brain” yo-yo that came up by itself. In fact, I actually have one sitting in my room, unused with no string anywhere to be found. That was a fad.

Do any of you remember those annoying little furballs called “Furbies” that disintegrated your brain cells every time you had a conversation with it? Once again, another fad. It seems there’s always something new, whether it be a Cabbage Patch Kid or a slinky. But sometimes, fads grow out of their fad stage and move on to something bigger.

Blogs are one of the best examples of fads graduating to become something much more. I don’t want to talk about blogs in general, but rather I want to talk about a blog-related fad that graduated. Unfortunately, this graduate is no A-plus student. She has caused many to perish, many to hurt, many to reap the consequences of having made her acquaintance. Her name is MySpace.

I know I need not get into all the trauma and heartache MySpace has caused those who decide to make her acquaintance. Whether it be a relationship that turned into murder, a kidnapping, robbery, and assault or the thousands of cases of lying, attack on character, and gossip. I don’t need to get into personal stories of those who are addicted to MySpace, wasting hours on the site, facing bad friends, terrible ads, and “sickos” instant messaging or emailing them. That’s all been said and done. I don’t think I need to prove to you that MySpace has been the place where police go to in order to find school shooting plans. I do not need to prove to you that MySpace has hurt many, whether it be physically or emotionally, day after day.

But I must be fair — many other sites including Xanga, Facebook, and Blogger can have the same issues. But the unfortunate thing is that MySpace is the king of problems. It, just like the other sites, is inherently evil. It’s run by humans, and humans mean sin. Yet we can limit the amount of evil and sin, and MySpace shows no signs of making any effort to make the site a safer and cleaner site. They do not want permanent or effective safety precautions put in because it will make the site harder to use, and they will probably lose many of their users. Then again, temporary fixes are not the ultimate answer, but I’ll get into that later.

What are the problems with MySpace?

The Setup of MySpace

MySpace is ingenious, really. It has just exploded over the past few years, and the reason is it’s setup. It has email, private messaging, comment sections, a place to put your “blogs,” an easy way to upload pictures, and lots of really ugly site designs which people really seem to enjoy just because it feels more like a homemade site. For many readers, it shows passion behind the words. Personally, I call it ugly.

This setup shows the dumbing down of kids. These sites are extremely hard to read, and show similarities to a high schoolers locker. Ads litter the site, making it hard to concentrate on the words, which usually contain vulgar language, crude jokes, provocative photos, and all around foul mouths. This is the majority of MySpace accounts, which have provided a place for people to say and do as they please without facing anyone in person.

I really want to say that blogging is inherently evil, and not just MySpace and it’s users. I probably can say that, but unfortunately, MySpace is providing a place for it’s users to enhance their sinful lifestyles in the easiest way possible. You can do it on a Xanga account and you can do it on a Blogger account. You can even do it with a regular website. But MySpace provides the easiest way to do it, allowing you to run towards sin with no bumps or barriers along the way. In essence, MySpace provides an ideal breeding ground for all types of problems, from kidnapping to robbery to lying to gossip. The proof for this rests within newspapers across the country. If you don’t believe me, go to Google News and type in “Myspace.”

Unfortunately, many still will not agree that MySpace or Xanga or Blogger are part of the issue. Many hold the view that they are not to blame for any of the problems we have seen emerge since 2003 and earlier. It is the view that the users and the users parents are the only ones to blame versus the view that the users, parents, and the site are all pieces of the puzzle and elements of the issue.

Our sinful nature is probably the number one issue, and all can agree on that point whether you believe MySpace is part of the problem or not. Since Adam and Eve’s first sin, we have been living in a fallen world. A world where sin abounds, and where law is held in disdain. People thumb their nose at God, and ignore His creation as a witness to His existence. There is no fear of God, no respect for parents or authority, only a rebellion against all rules, regulations, and revelations from God–His Word.

Can It Be Fixed?

The question is, of course, can these issues of sin be fixed? Can we change MySpace and end the problems of assault, battery, gossip, and pornography? The answer is an emphatic “no.” Changing MySpace will only temporarily fix the issues. It will suppress them, which is a good thing. In fact, MySpace reform will probably save many lives. Raising the age required for joining and having a way to verify age will save lives. Having better watchdogs on the site will save many lives. Working to remove any and all bad material will save many lives.

But only temporarily.

As Christians, we know that sin is not going to be “fixed.” All humans, as we know, have fallen short of the glory of God, which is perfection. We cannot be as perfect and holy as God is. No one has followed God’s laws perfectly, and all have sinned. And will continue to sin.

The unfortunate thing about this is the fact that God has told us that all who sin deserve punishment. God must be a just God, and he must give us the punishment that we deserve – death. This death is eternal – hell. No one wants that. But as most of us know, Christ, God’s son, came as a sacrifice for many so that we can live. He died in our place, took our punishment, and allowed God to serve justice so that we might live. What we must do is repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ.

That’s the only way MySpace, Xanga, and Blogger will be fixed – when it’s users repent of their wrongdoing and put their faith in the Savior. From the looks of things, that’s not going to happen anytime soon, unless we get out their and seek and save the lost. It’s up to you – are you ready to reform MySpace alone, or are you ready to regenerate those around you, changing even more that MySpace?

I’m done with this issue for awhile. A long while.

In Light of Some Recent Discussions

I think Colossions 4:5-6 rings quite clearly in light of some of our recent discussions.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

I think that verse speaks for itself.

Rick Warren, Again

I hate bringing Rick Warren up just because I’ve gotten so beat up over the issue in the past. To tell you the truth, it brings back bad memories of me trying to be a peacemaker and getting walloped for it. All I was trying to say was that we need to stick to criticizing with grace and not with venom.

But I digress. Now Rick Warren is doing something that completely dumbfounded me. He is going to be preaching in North Korea. Yeah, that’s right, the place that decided it would be a little funny to shoot off their own fireworks for the the fourth of the July.

Rick Warren’s popular “The Purpose-Driven Life” – the Christian bestseller credited by many last year with playing a role in convincing an Atlanta courthouse-shooting suspect to surrender after his murderous rampage and to release his hostage – may be put to an even tougher test next year when the Southern California preacher holds the first evangelical stadium crusade in 60 years in North Korea.

Warren, who is on a 40-day, 13-nation tour, will visit Kaesong on July 17 to plan for the March 2007 crusade after being invited by a group of North Korean businessmen who visited him at his Saddleback Church’s Lake Forest office last month.

“I will be the first preacher in 60 years to speak publicly in North Korea,” Warren told the Orange County Register. “I’m honored.”

He said the North Korean government would allow him to preach in a stadium seating 15,000 but a larger venue would be provided if he could fill the seats.

There are a few issues I have here. First of all, some people will remember Billy Graham’s visit to communist Russia in the eighties and returning to say that there wasn’t as much persecution as he thought. And all of the KGB giggled. Well, they did in their head at least. The fact of the matter was, Billy didn’t see what was really happening. He saw what the communists wanted him to see. And you can be certain that is what Rick Warren is going to see and he will probably return saying “what’s wrong with North Korea? What persecution?”

What is he going to preach? He can’t preach repentance and faith in Jesus Christ alone – he’d be kicked out. In fact, I wonder why his message is so appealing. The gospel, really, isn’t something that the communists would be wanting their itching ears to hear. Will his message be that you can have a better life even in communism? Is he going to preach that Jesus will fix their persecution? Their pain? He has a wonderful plan for their life?

But I’m done being cynical. Now I need to say some other things.

First of all, this is amazing that anyone related to the Christian faith will have an opportunity like this. It’s amazing that an American is actually going into this country. I personally would not go just to show them that we don’t stand for smarty pants communists. But putting that aside, this is an amazing opportunity for Warren, and it could possibly save some of our lives. But I doubt the communists are worried about a revival.

“This is a Satanic regime,” Suzanne Scholte, chairman of the North Korea Freedom Coalition, told Chad Groening of American Family Radio, “and to go in there and believe that you could actually preach freely is an illusion. It won’t do anything to help the church. It will only put the true church at risk, and it will be used as a propaganda piece by the Kim Jong Il regime.”

Secondly, I have yet to hear Warren preach on the gospel. I believe he is saved, but he just hasn’t learned that the gospel is the center and the focus. It’s not about a wonderful plan for your life (at least not his definition). The gospel must be our purpose – it must be what drives us to do and be what we are. If it is not, then I would question my faith.

Before I end, though, I need to rebuke a fellow believer by suggesting that Rick Warren in the anti-Christ. I’m sorry, Mrs. Schleuter, but that’s not right.

I mean this sincerely and from the heart. Rick Warren’s presence in North Korea, just as its insane dictator Kim Jong II is promising to launch more long range missile tests, is no accident. Rick Warren can then become an international “Man of Peace” and will be in even greater demand among heads of state to bring peace and stability to a violent world. Just like a messiah (false) would.

And I mean my comments sincerely and from my heart. I pray that you will not look for only the bad, but expose the good sometimes.

A Biblical Worldview on Immigration

**Read This** The Bible is unabashedly pro-immigrant. Interesting article to take a look at. I’m not sure I agree with everything he says, and in fact, I think he goes a bit overboard. But he has some interesting points to make. Thoughts?

I’ve been thinking about illegal immigration for the past couple of months, and really wrestling with the issue of how we should respond. Should we just boot the people out of our country, or should we go the completely opposite route and award them complete amnesty. I quickly ruled out complete amnesty, due to the fact that that would not be serving justice. But I also came to the understanding that many Christians have put aside their biblical worldview in this issue, and have just been speaking Rush Limbaugh talking points. It’s not that Rush is wrong, it’s just that many of us, in our tone, come off as heartless. We come off as compassionless.

Now, what do I propose in order to fix the situation? To tell you the truth, I’m still working through it, figuring things out. One fact is, we can’t just kick 11 million people out of the country. On the other hand, it would be a terrible injustice if we just granted amnesty to all illegal aliens, whether they are from Haiti, Cuba, Mexico, Canada, Europe, or Africa. Where is the middle ground, and where should we as Christians be standing on this issue?

Here’s what we need to answer:

How should a Christian respond to this issue as a whole?
How would you fix this problem if you were put into a place of power?

There may be more questions to answer, but I think these are two of the central ones that I am wrestling with. Are you up to the task of answering them? Use the comment section or your blog, and we’ll try to figure this out as Christians, and not just as Republicans.