More of My Thoughts on Syria

india1Question: If, as I stated in my last post, my mission in life is to proclaim the kingdom of God; and if my allegiance to God’s kingdom supersedes my allegiance to any political ideology; does that mean I have the responsibility to think about how my country’s decisions affect believers of other countries that could be harmed because of the actions of my country?

I think the answer is yes, and that affects how I view the situations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Palestine, and now Syria.

I have several friends who grew up as Christians in Baghdad. Their families had to flee because of religious persecution. Persecution that got worse once the United States got involved.

Everyone agrees, even my Iraqi friends, that Saddam was a bad guy. But under his regime there was a degree of religious freedom that evaporated when he was toppled. Here is my understanding from Christians who lived there during that time: Saddam used Islam to his favor. But he was such a bad guy that he controlled most of the fractions within Islam with an iron fist. In other words, if he told the Taliban to leave Christians alone, they were left alone. Saddam used Christians in his country, especially in Baghdad, because they were highly educated, good citizens, and excellent businessmen. Saddam even had Christians in his cabinet. Continue reading

The End

For the past couple of months I have been teaching through Revelation during our church’s Wednesday night bible study. It’s about the third time I have taught through John’s extraordinary vision. In no do I consider myself an expert on end time prophecies. I have a tendency to teach Revelation with an eye toward it’s historical meaning first and its prophetic meaning secondly. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it to be prophetic, I do. It simply means I try to first understand what the original audience would have understood. I know that sounds confusing, but that has been my approach.

I blame it on my family history.

My great-grandfather Riggs wrote a book about Revelation from an amillennial perspective. My grandfather Riggs had detailed teaching notes from a premillennial perspective. It is in my DNA to be confused. I think the important thing is a belief in a real, literal return of Jesus. The rest is details. Continue reading

An Acts 2 Church

If you have  been following my blog for a while you know God has brought some very wonderful Baghdad Christians into my life. I treasure my relationship with them.

The very first Baghdad Christian I met was Rammiz. Rammiz grew up in Baghdad, Iraq. His family left the country because of religious persecution. Through God’s sovereignty, Rammiz found himself as a student in one of my sociology classes. He is now a student at a local university studying to become a dentist.

Recently, Rammiz had to write a short paper, explaining three different experiences he has had in churches in the United States. He uses my church as one of the examples. I can think of no greater compliment than for a person who has experienced religious persecution, and has witnessed the reality of Acts 2 churches, to say that our church is an Acts 2 church and his “ideal church experience.”

Here is what he writes about FCC: Continue reading

Election Day Prayer

Well, tomorrow is the big day! Election day 2012! I will be glad when it is over and I do hope it is over tomorrow evening. I pray that whoever wins wins by a solid enough number so there will be no disputes, cries of voter fraud, recounts, lawsuits and countersuits; and even though I think the electoral college is ingenious, I pray that whoever wins the popular vote also wins the electoral college vote. I pray for a conflict free election, regardless who wins. I ask you to join me in that prayer.

In addition, here are some other things I will be praying tomorrow: Continue reading

An Iraqi’s Perspective (Part Two)

A guest post by Dr. Marwan Odeesh. Dr. Odeesh was born, raised, and educated in Baghdad, Iraq. This post is his perspective on the situation in Iraq, and the United States’ involvement. Please read carefully and reflectively.

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Thank you Dr. Riggs. I am honored to know you. Regarding my belief: I was born into Catholic Christian family, from a long Catholic–Chaldean ancestry, who has kept their Christianity viable for a long time.

I must admit that our Christianity is different from the Christianity I found in the States. Our Christianity is more ritualistic than intellectual, and it is more traditional than revolutionary and life changing. The one thing we do have in common with the West, and the only unifying factor between the Far East and the Wild West, is the Person of Jesus Christ.

The reason for our traditional Christianity, in my opinion, is due to the continual and successive invasions on Iraq in the classical antiquity counted in AD which is my main concern: Achaemenid and Seleucid rule, Parthian and Roman rule, Sassanid Empire, Arab conquest and Abbasid Caliphate, Mongol conquest, Ottoman Turkey and Mamluk rule, up to the British mandate in the 20th century. Iraqi Chaldean and Assyrian Christians have dealt with their Christianity as a treasure to conceal other than a faith to live out on a daily basis and that has made our Christianity a tradition more than a true faith message to live and outreach.

Despite great historic Christian theologians such as St.John of Dalyatha, and St Aphram the Syrian, Christian martyrdom in ancient Iraq, in my opinion, has been the result of our obedience to the engraved teachings of Jesus Christ, rather than a living faith; and being an interactive living body of Jesus Christ, and this is related to the toughened structural composition of the Iraqi personality over time. Maybe because of this, the Iraqi Christians have also had favor in the Lord’s eye to testify of their faith as martyrs. Continue reading

An Iraqi’s Perspective

A guest post by Dr. Marwan Odeesh. Dr. Odeesh was born, raised, and educated in Baghdad, Iraq. This post is his perspective on the situation in Iraq, and the United States’ involvement. Please read carefully and reflectively.

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Politically speaking, the Iraqi-Iranian War actually started in 1980 when Sadam Hussein, the former Iraqi President, ignited tensions as he became the ruler of Iraq. Once he was President, Sadam disregarded the Algerian Agreement he signed when he was the Vice President. When he was Vice President, Sadam and the Shaah regime in Iran, fairly divided the regional water (aka, the Arabian River). Until 1975, the regional water was collected entirely by Iraq as the main Iraqi source of oil. Iraq had full control and sovereignty of the regional water from coast to coast. In 1975, or so, the Shah’s regime pressed hard for Iraq to sign the deal by arming the scattered Kurdish Militias in the northern part of Iraq, encouraging them to fight against the Iraqi central government The Shah’s regime encouraged the Kurds to have their own autonomy, as a separate ethnic group, with their own heritage. If they could cut the northern part of Iraq off from Baghdad, were the Iraqi government was located, the Shah’s regime would be cutting a major portion of Iraq’s rich oil fields from the central government of Iraq.

Sadam used the tactic of the Shah’s regime to isolate the former Iraqi President. Sadam’s plan worked and the Bath party pronounced him as Iraqi’s new President. Once he was president, Sadam negatively responded to the Kurds’ claim of autonomy and he disregarded the Algerian Pact. Soon thereafter, Sadam started a war with Iran that lasted 8 years. Continue reading

The Iraq War

President Obama is a man of his word. He said he would pull all troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, and he has done just that! After a decade of war, the conflict in Iraq has ceased. At least for us; at least for now.

But what was gained from all the fighting?

I will admit I was all for the Iraq War in the beginning. (However, I will admit to being naive, and possibly duped.) I will also admit that is not really fair to judge motives of political and military leaders who got us into the war in hind-site. It is easy to be an arm-chair general. But about half-way through the conflict I started having my doubts if we should have ever gone to war in the first place. And now that it is “over,” I wonder, “What was the point?” As soon as our troops were pulled from the region, Iraq started falling apart. Whatever gains we had made seemed to be lost overnight.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, financially, The Iraq War has been the second costliest war in American history. More costly than the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, WWI, Korea, and Vietnam. More costly, financially, than any war other than WWII. That’s astounding, is it not? And now our country is on the verge of bankruptcy! Please, someone tell me, what was the point? There could have been a point at the beginning (though I don’t remember hearing one), but now that it is over, why were we there?

But the cost of the Iraq War was much more than financial! Continue reading