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America, Look Up

The importance of America returning to Christian principles and Traditional Family Values

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February 2016

Interview with Paul Kwo of God’s Not Dead 2


After the first God’s Not Dead movie release, I decided to reach out to some of the actors, hoping some might be willing to submit to an email interview I could post to my blog. Several consented! Paul Kwo was one of the actors who readily agreed. He appears in God’s Not Dead 2, and this time, I asked questions prior to the new movie’s release.

Are you thrilled to once again be involved in a God’s Not Dead Movie?

I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of another God’s Not Dead movie. It’s a wonderful pleasure to work with amazing people who are committed to the work of God around the world in the arts. I had a wonderful time in Little Rock, Arkansas shooting the movie and I look forward to seeing it in theaters when it premieres.

On what date will it release?

God’s Not Dead 2 will be released on April 1, 2016 in theaters everywhere. Check out godsnotdeadthemovie.com for a complete listing of theaters that will be showing the movie.

Please remind my readers of the role you played and are playing in this second installment of God’s Not Dead.

I play the part of Martin Yip. He was a foreign student from China studying in the US at the University where the first story took place. At the end of the first movie, he was moved by the Spirit of God through the actions of the lead actor and decided to dedicate his life to God. This second installment of God’s Not Dead deals with Martin Yip’s new reality of being a Christian in a family of non-believers. He is now confronted with new issues that he has to overcome and decide for himself what actions to take next.

How many other actors/actresses who played in the first will be in the second as well?

From what I know we have 5 actors/actresses returning from the first movie to the second.

What new faces should we be watching for in God’s Not Dead 2?

Everyone! There are a lot of new amazing talents that have joined the film this time around and they are all great. There are just too many to list. So check out the movie’s website for detailed information about who’s in the new one.

How was it working with these folks on this film?

I got to work mostly with Hayley Orrantia in this film since those are the scenes I had. She was wonderful and super fun to work with. Of course I had scenes with some of the returning cast members and as always, they are awesome people to work with. The whole production has always been fun and positive, so it’s just a pleasure to work at.

How has appearing in the God’s Not Dead movies impacted your personal life and lives of those you personally know?

I have had a few people come up to me randomly in person or online thanking me for my work on this movie. It really gave me the encouragement I needed to know that this movie did have a real impact in people’s lives. That’s the most important part of doing this project. It’s good to know that something I did had a direct positive impact in so many people’s lives and gives me the strength to continue on my journey.

Many people say that when movies come out in extra parts, that none compare to the first one.  Will viewers find that God’s Not Dead 2 is as good as the first?

Unlike a lot of Franchises, God’s Not Dead took a slightly different route. Having new main cast members and a story that’s not bogged down by the first one, it gives it a really fresh take on the issue the movie franchise addresses. I believe God’s Not Dead 2 is different enough and addresses a very different part of the topic that viewers will find it just as exciting as the first one.

Are you working on any other projects at this time?

I’m working on my own Rock album. The single will be out sometime in late March, and the rest of the album will follow around late April. Be sure to follow me on twitter and instagram @paulkwo, or join my facebook fan page facebook.com/paulkwofanpage to get up-to-date with what I’m doing and how to get a copy of my new album. You can also visit paulkwo.com to learn more as well.

I would like to thank Paul Kwo for his willingness to share about this upcoming film. Make plans now to attend God’s Not Dead 2!

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Is Ted Cruz an Evangelical Christian?


Occasionally I suffer writer’s block, so when a friend challenges me with a topic, I dive into the research, grabbing the bull by the horns.  Recently, I was asked to delve into the religious beliefs of Presidential Candidate and Texas Senator, Ted Cruz.  After reading through multiple blogs and combing several articles posted by main stream media outlets, I’m ready to record my findings.

Ted Cruz accepted Christ at the tender age of 8 years old, following the Lord in Baptism shortly later at Clay Road Baptist Church in Houston, Texas.  Pastor Gaylen Wiley of Clay Road administered the ordinance of Baptism, and says of the candidate,

“Ted was just like all the other kids, except he had the IQ of his father.  He was three stages ahead {of the other children}.

As a teenager, Cruz attended Second Baptist High School in Houston.

Whereas some young people leave the church after pursuing higher education, Cruz has faithfully followed Christ his entire lifetime.  In his 2012 Senate bid, Cruz aimed his efforts on winning the hearts of social conservatives and to kick-off his Presidential campaign, he announced his intention to run at ultra-conservative Liberty University.

The right of religious liberty drives the Cruz Camp.  Senator Cruz believes a person’s religious beliefs should be protected even if it conflicts with the law of the land.  And his words can be backed up with actions.  As Solicitor General of Texas, he fought for the “constitutionality of the Ten Commandments’ monument” at the Texas State Capitol and the words ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.  And, when Indiana passed a law disallowing the Government to strong arm Christians into participating in same sex marriage ceremonies, Cruz affirmed the state’s decision.  He said,

“I commend the state of Indiana for doing the right thing.  Religious liberty is not some cockamamie new theory the Indiana legislature just figured out yesterday.  It was literally among the founding principles of our nation…”

In recent days, both the Trump and Rubio camps have charged Cruz with lying and utilizing underhanded tactics.  Cruz brushes off the charges, insisting he’s operating above board and that he’s being targeted because he’s a force to be reckoned with in the bid for the Republican Presidential nomination.

I don’t know the man personally. I’ve only observed his work via means of the Internet and television.  That being said, Cruz appears to be the real deal.  When he voices an unpopular view based upon his principles and values, he doesn’t “evolve” on the issue but sticks to his guns.  Of course this practice fails to win over many people from the Washington Establishment, but isn’t that the point?  America needs a leader who fears God more than popularity polls.

Is Ted Cruz perfect?  Absolutely not and he’d be the first person to admit as much.  However, he’s a man who knows and understands the power of Redemption and firmly believes that if a Country focuses once again upon the Constitution and the God of its founding, truly we can speak anew of Reagan’s vision of America,

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life…. And how stands the city on this winter night? … After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom…”

Possibly Ted Cruz’s most welcomed endorsement comes from one who knows him quite well both on and off the political field, Greg Matte, Senior Pastor at Houston First Baptist Church. Reverend Matte says,

“I consider it an honor to be the Cruz family’s pastor.  We all know Senator Cruz as a brilliant, strong, and confident leader, unswervingly handling the Constitution with respect and wisdom. But I also know him as a husband, father, and friend. We have eaten hot dogs in our church’s gym as our kids played, walked in the park as our kids rode bikes together and our wives talked, and eaten pizza by the pool on a summer evening as our children swam. Ted Cruz is in touch with the normal routines of every day life while also being outstanding in dealing with the complex issues of our day. This combination of character and competence gives me confidence that, under Ted’s leadership, America can once again head in the right direction. Because of what I have seen of Ted Cruz, as a father, a husband, and a Christian, both in and out of the political arena, I heartily give my personal endorsement to Ted Cruz as our next president.”

America needs a Godly leader.

America needs a person dedicated to observing and honoring the Constitution of the United States.

Does America need Ted Cruz?

You be the judge.

 

My Problem with the Manning Message


I celebrated the Denver Broncos win on Sunday evening, February 7.  For several years, I’ve escorted teenagers from our youth group to Incredible Pizza for our annual Super Bowl Party.  I find the spot perfect for sports lovers and those who care not one whit at the outcome.  The teens uninterested in the big game can spend money on arcade games and special attractions while we sports enthusiasts huddle around a gigantic television screen.  Going into Sunday night, my brain picked the Panthers while my heart longed for a Bronco’s win.  I think Peyton Manning might hang up his cleats for the last time this off-season, so seeing him win another championship just felt right.  And for those who ignore all sporting events, even though Peyton failed to play a spectacular game, the Broncos defense stymied the Carolina Panthers, and Denver pulled off the unlikely victory.

As soon as the game clock wound down to zero and the confetti cannons fired, I rounded up the teens driving them back to church.  My younger sons, not yet in the youth group, met me at the church, and on the way home my 11 year old asked if I’d seen his interview after the game.  I had not.  He said,

“Dad, did you know that Peyton said he was going to celebrate by drinking a lot of Budweiser?”  I could hardly believe it.  This wasn’t “Manning-esque.”    After arriving home, I found his actual quote:

“This has been a very emotional week and an emotional night. I have a couple of my priorities in order. I want to go kiss my wife, kiss my kids. I want to go celebrate with my family. And I am going to drink a lot of beer tonight – Budweiser. Those are my priorities at this time. I will take some time to reflect on the other. I am going to say a prayer and a ‘thank you’ to the man upstairs for this opportunity as well.”

Here’s why I’m concerned about his comments.

First, he told the entire world he planned to celebrate by drinking “a lot of beer.” I’m not naive.  I imagine many star athletes celebrate by downing alcoholic beverages, partying into the wee hours of the morning after a victory.  Though I imagine this to be the case, I don’t know for sure because I’m not a witness to the after game festivities.  In other words, out of sight, out of mind.  Instead of keeping the lid on his post-game plans, Manning announced his intentions to down a lot of Budweiser.  Peyton blew an opportunity to be a shining example for the younger generation.

In Children’s Church on Super Bowl Sunday morning, a four year old sported a Peyton Manning jersey to Kids’ Church.  I told the youngster I loved his apparel and that I liked Manning because he had been a role model to thousands of young boys just like him.  That night, the man I held up as an exemplary example, gushed about carousing with plenty of alcohol.  A seed I planted in a young boy’s mind about a sports figure he could look up to, withered before it had a chance to grow.

Secondly, this man who speaks in interviews about the importance of faith in Christ, referenced God as “the man upstairs.”  This statement, though used by many well intention-ed people, demeans our Creator.  God is Holy, Righteous, Just, our Creator…not the “man upstairs.”  Certainly people listening to his post-game comments knew his reference alluded to God, but somehow his words fail to give God the true awe and respect He deserves.

Sure, some will see this as petty, reminding me and others that Peyton’s a professional athlete, not a pastor of a Southern Baptist Church.  I understand that.  However, when a person claims to know Christ and  earns the right to speak on a global stage, I’m not sure insinuating I’m going to go out and get drunk is the message that should be conveyed to hosts of people who place the Manning family on a pedestal.

Do Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God?


With the great influx of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, people often ask the question, “Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God?”  Listening to the President, one would assume ‘yes.’

On February 3rd, the President took the podium at the Islamic Society of Baltimore.  During his speech, he insinuated there are no differences between a mosque, church and a synagogue, pointing out all are places of worship.  Concerning humanity he claimed,

“We’re all God’s children.”

And to close his historic speech, he quoted a Muslim American who commented about the act of terror perpetrated in Chattanooga by an Islamic extremist,

“in the name of God, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed, God bless our fallen heroes.”

Either the President purposely disregards the clear teachings of his professed Christianity, or he’s lumping all religions together, in hopes to create a more cohesive bond between all faith groups.   At this point, it’s hard to identify his intentions, although his propensity to shelter Islam from vitriol tends to reveal where his true sympathies lie.

So, do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Let’s take a moment to identify key doctrinal teachings between the two faith systems.

  1. Muslims reject Jesus as the Christ and God in the flesh, claiming Jesus was just a prophet.
  2. Muslims reject the idea that God has a Son.
  3. Muslims reject the teaching that Jesus died on a cross and rose again. They teach Judas was crucified in Jesus’ place, and Jesus was taken up to Heaven without dying.
  4. Muslims deny the teaching of a Triune God (the Trinity)

 

Do Christians and Muslims worship the same God? Absolutely not!  To teach and or insinuate otherwise destines the listener to an eternity separated from God in a place the Bible identifies as Hell.  In our Country’s push to adopt political correctness in every situation, we must never allow PC to shame us in to NOT sharing the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   We must be ready to tell all about this unspeakable gift of grace.  The souls of humanity depend upon it.

Obama’s Mosque-ing the Truth About Islam


When I heard of the President’s plan to visit a mosque, I half-expected him to submit his resume’ to serve as Imam, post White House duties, of course.   All joking aside, I wasn’t surprised about his visit of goodwill.  Throughout his entire Presidency, Obama has sided with Muslims and refused to identify terrorists as radical proponents of Islam.  Of course, members of the mosque warmly welcomed the President and his message.  Sadly, his remarks failed to truly convey the impact of Mohammed and his teachings upon the United States of America.

The President spoke at the Islamic Society of North America, a mosque with a sordid history and with ties to terrorism.  Terrorism expert Steve Emerson informed the President of the religious institution’s ties to terror.   Knowing of the ties to radical jihad and policies befitting terrorist organizations, the President chose to attend the event regardless of the mosque’s practices.  Emerson said,

“As he has done so many times in the past, he decided to ignore this evidence and still continue his plans to confer legitimacy on a mosque that has a history of having officials making outrageously pro-terrorist statements that would seem to conflict with the president’s policies.”

The President instructed the audience in Islamic History, claiming Islam has always been a part of America because it was practiced by slaves.  He failed to cite America’s problems with Islam from its very founding.  In the 1780’s, Americans faced a hostage crisis.  Many Americans aboard cargo ships fell prey to the piracy of Somalis.  The pirates sailing off the coasts of North Africa only released the Americans once a ransom was paid.   Finally in 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain.  They asked the diplomat why the Muslims treated the Americans with such animosity and disdain.  He answered in this way,

Islam was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Qur’an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman (Muslim) who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

Until Jefferson assumed the Presidency in 1801, America continued to fork over ransoms to free American traders.  At this time, the leader of Tripoli demanded Jefferson pay an upfront sum of $225,000 and then $25,000 per year thereafter.  When Jefferson refused, the leader of Tripoli declared war on the United States.  Several Islamic nations followed suit.

Though Jefferson initially opposed raising a Navy, he did so anyway to combat the Muslims of the Barbary Coast.  When Algiers and Tunis noted the Americans determination to fight, they fled, abandoning Tripoli to fight its own battle.  The United States of America won the war.

Yes, the President’s right.  From America’s inception, the Muslims have contributed much, including providing the impetus for the United States to develop the grandest Navy in the world.

But what about now?  Have things changed?  In recent months, terrorist attacks around the globe have precipitated a greater scrutiny on the rise of Islamic terror.   And though the Obama Administration shies away from identifying the ideology perpetuating these gruesome attacks, everyone knows Islam is the common thread.

After reading through the President’s speech, I found the following segment to be most disconcerting,

“Muslim-Americans keep us safe.  They are our police.  They are our firefighters.  They’re in [the Department of] Homeland Security.”

Granted, I don’t see a radical jihadist under every hijab or burqa, but one won’t find a Lutheran or a Southern Baptist yelling “Allahu Akbar” before spraying a public facility with bullets either.

The President blamed Republicans for perpetuating a culture of mistrust against Muslim Americans, saying,

“..those kinds of cynical political tactics run directly contrary to the values that we hold dear in this country.”

In other words, instead of monitoring the activities of potential Muslims, he would prefer we stick our head in the sand…or at least so it seems.

Obviously, the President has forgotten the key phrase from the Marin Corps Hymn,

“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

For America to forge ahead as the greatest nation of the world, we must combat Islamic terror in the countries responsible for bolstering the likes of ISIS or Al Quaeda.  The numeric rise in proselytes to radical jihad boggles the mind and raises concerns about Syrian refugees migrating to America.  Sure, America’s label of the “great melting pot” continues to exist, but if we don’t properly comb through each individual’s background, “refugees” hell-bent on destroying America will be bringing war and devastation to the shores of America.

Those genuinely seeking asylum from cruel regimes or escaping persecution are welcomed (with vetting of course.)  However, for those with ties to terrorist organizations or with questionable backgrounds need to be incarcerated or shipped abroad.  Let’s keep the radicals in Tripoli.

 

Is Donald Trump an Evangelical Christian?


Currently, it appears the possibility of derailing the Trump Train is slim to none. Though Ted Cruz is waging a valiant effort, his polling numbers fall short of overtaking the brash Republican frontrunner. The most surprising aspect of Trump’s meteoric rise is his popularity among evangelical Christians.  Almost a third of people claiming to be born again have tossed their support behind a candidate whose faith journey is questionable at best.

Trump’s flirtation with personal scandals and profiting from seedy businesses are well documented. Trump has raked in money off of strip clubs, cheated on his wives, and appeared on the 1990 cover of Playboy magazine.  In his book “Art of the Deal,” he boasts about bedding other men’s wives. He wrote,

“If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happy and married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best seller.”

The biggest head scratcher of all is the Trump endorsement by Liberty University President, Jerry Falwell, Jr.  Liberty is arguably the most conservative institution of higher learning in America, and when news outlets broadcast Falwell’s coveted backing, other Christian leaders expressed their concern. One of those was Southern Baptist Convention President, Russell Moore.  Moore reminded Falwell, Jr. of the 1998 “Resolution on Moral Character of Public Officials” as passed by the Southern Baptist Convention. The resolution reads,

“[We] urge all Americans to embrace and act on the conviction that character does count in public office, and to elect those officials and candidates who, although imperfect, demonstrate consistent honesty, moral purity and the highest character.”

In the book of I Samuel we find the verse,

“Man sees the outward appearance, God sees the heart.”

In other words, no one has the right to make a final determination on Mr. Trump’s Christianity. However, one statement of Trump’s is quite disconcerting for those who truly are “born again.” In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Trump said,

“Why do I have to repent or ask for forgiveness, if I am not making mistakes? I work hard, I’m an honorable person.”

Honorable? Really?

Concerning Trump’s past money making ventures off of the exploitation of women and infidelities, Collin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring USA, said the following,

“It gets at the very matter of character, of sin, of forgiveness. A mature conservative Evangelical Christian should not hold sin against someone, but unconfessed sin should be a problem, a theological problem. And unadmitted sin is sort of a step beyond unconfessed sin, isn’t it?”

Trump’s boasts about cheating on his wife and sleeping with the wives of powerful men is far from a contrite heart.

Far be it from me or any other Christian to pass final judgment on Donald Trump. That role is reserved for God and God alone. However, the Bible states,

“…by their fruits you will know them.”

His checkered past fails to model the life of a follower of Christ, and Trump admits leaving God out of the equation when he makes a mistake. Trump had this to say when questioned about repenting of sin:

“I am not sure I have (asked God for forgiveness). I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

So, if a Conservative Christian tops your Presidential “must haves” there are certainly better choices (Cruz, Rubio, Huckabee). Several of the Republican hopefuls have strong Christian testimonies. Donald Trump? Not so much. Sure, America’s not electing a Pastor, but even the forefathers understood Christian principles were the driving force behind America’s greatness. Trump claims he wants to “Make America Great Again.” No one faults him for this motto as the last seven years have devastated our Country. However, for America to become great again, we need a leader that walks humbly before his/her God. Based upon his past and his prideful ramblings from lecterns across the United States, Donald Trump may not be the candidate qualified to meet this criteria.

 

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