CAIR: Beginning to Care?

CAIR: Beginning to Care?
Vol: 46 Issue: 29 Friday, July 29, 2005

Most Americans this morning were glued to their television sets as a live series of London raids unfolded against a suspect in the failed terrorist attacks against London targets on July 21.

Meanwhile, the rest of the western world continues to wonder where are all the allegedly ‘moderate’ Muslims we keep hearing about but not from?

The suspect in the raid is a British-born citizen, one who grew up in London, worked and lived among other British citizens, and was working with under-privileged London children.

Until it was discovered he was a member of an al-Qaeda cell who tried to kill as many of his fellow citizens as possible on July 21, and suspected of building the bombs that blew up four London subway cars and a double-decker bus on July 7.

As it turns out, there actually are some Muslim ‘moderates’ that are behind a recent ‘fatwa’ issued by leading American scholars of Islamic law.

Abdul Malik Mujahid, chairman of the Chicago-based Council on Islamic Relations, issued a statement saying;

I think it is the responsibility of the leaderships of mosques to be more connected to the congregations, to make communities safe on an individual basis, and to keep an eye out for people under stress and make sure they channel it in a nonviolent way.

The fatwa declared people who commit terrorism in the name of Islam are not ‘martyrs’ but criminals, under Islamic law.

It is worth noting that it took a religious edict to declare killing innocents a criminal act under Islamic law. It tends to water down the administration’s argument that Islam is, at its heart, really a religion of peace and love.

But American Islam is pragmatic, if nothing else. After five years of complaining about being victims of an unfair backlash, ‘moderate’ Islam has at long last, figured out why they are being ‘victimized’ in the first place. Because they defended the clerics who indoctrinated the terrorists.

The British bombers were indoctrinated into al-Qaeda by local British mosques. “It was shocking to us, said Oussama Jamal, a US CAIR member and former president of the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation.

On Sept. 11, we knew it was no one in the community. But it is shocking to see someone who grew up in the UK to take part in acts like this.

Jamal’s expression of ‘shock’ five years after 9/11 is reminiscent of 1945 German officials ‘shock’ after five years of Nazi atrocities in their midst, but, cynicism aside, it is encouraging.

The Germans didn’t start expressing shock until after they were fairly certain the Nazis were defeated. While Islamic terror may not yet be defeated, they evidently have lost some of their support within American Islam.

The American fatwa was issued by the 18-member Fiqh Council of North America. (The term fiqh refers to Islamic legal issues and understanding the faith s religious law.)

There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism, the scholars wrote in a statement that quotes the Koran and accepted statements from the Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The statement continued; Targeting civilians life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram or forbidden.

Assessment:

In truth, the brand of Islam labeled ‘moderate’ is in point of fact, a revised version of Islam from that preached by the prophet Mohammed.

This is the core teaching of Islam on terrorism: Jihad is ordained for you, though you dislike it. But it is possible that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and like a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knows, and you know not. (Another translation reads: Warfare is ordained for you. ) (Koran 2:216)

Here is what Mohammed taught regarding the duty of Muslims to participate in jihad:

Not equal are those believers who sit at home and receive no injurious hurt, and those who strive hard, fighting Jihad in Allah s Cause with their wealth and lives. Allah has granted a rank higher to those who strive hard, fighting Jihad with their wealth and bodies to those who sit (at home). Unto each has Allah promised good, but He prefers Jihadists who strive hard and fight above those who sit home. He has distinguished his fighters with a huge reward. (Koran 4:95)

Mohammed also taught;

“Allah has purchased the believers, their lives and their goods. For them is the Garden (of Paradise). They fight in Allah s Cause, and they slay and are slain; they kill and are killed. (Koran 9:111)

CAIR’s fatwa concerning terrorism is encouraging, but not for the reasons one might think.

While a fatwa against terrorism might discourage a few would-be terrorists in the US and may result in better anti-terrorist intelligence in the US, it isn’t exactly because ‘moderate’ Islam has turned over a new leaf.

Mohammed also taught: It is not proper for the Believers to all go forth together to fight Jihad. A troop from every expedition should remain behind when others go to war. (Koran 9:122)

It is difficult to discuss Islam as a religion of peace and love without sounding anti-Islamic. That is unfortunate.

It is a product of years and years of political correctness that has airport screeners randomly selecting Scandinavian grandmothers for special screening instead of Muslim males of Middle Eastern descent between the ages of 17 and 35, as fits the profile of an Islamic terrorist.

I am no racist. Neither am I a religious bigot. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to heaven, but that is the basic doctrine of my faith. That doesn’t mean I wish those of other religious beliefs any harm.

But political correctness makes it necessary to add that codicil when discussing Islam.

Because Islam, at its heart, is rooted in jihad, and jihad in fundamental Islam is different than the ‘internal jihad’ or struggle between the lust of the flesh and the tenets of Islam that is taught by moderate Islam.

To the jihadist, moderate Islam is an apostasy, and those who practice moderate Islam, as apostates, are as much targets as the infidels. As such, Islamic ‘moderates’ are discovering they are at as much risk from jihadists as anybody else is.

Their statement declaring murder illegal under Islamic law was intended. according to Abdul Malik Mujahid, to send a two-pronged message.

First, it s an internal edict to Muslims, but it s also an external message to non-Muslims who may need to hear the strongest possible condemnation of terrorism from within Islam.

For the non-Muslim community, it s important because I don’t believe many Americans realize this is forbidden by Islam, said Arif Hussain, who leads Friday prayers at the Lake County Mosque in Waukegan. They don’t believe the Muslim community in America has spoken out loudly enough against these acts.

But the edict unintentionally sent out a three-pronged message, with the third prong taking the form of a question; If Islam is fundamentally a religion of peace and love, then why does it take an Islamic fatwa to clarify that murder is against Islamic law?

It is worth noting that British Muslim leaders who denounced the July 7 attacks in London said suicide bombings could still be justified against an occupying power.

Despite the pragmatic declarations from the Fiqh Council of North America, the world remains locked in what is nothing less than a global religious war between the adherents between what the world terms the ‘three great monotheistic religions’.

Islam’s goal is the annihilation of the Jewish state and Islamic domination over Jerusalem. Its secondary target is the United States, the ‘Christian Crusaders’ that stand between Islam’s goal and Israel’s destruction.

It is, at its most basic, a war against what Islam calls the ‘People of the Book’ — Jews and Christians. Stay with me while I shift gears.

It is a war between the people of the Bible and the people of the Koran over who will control Jerusalem.

“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.” (Zechariah 12:3)

It is a battle between the God of redemption and Allah, the god of jihad.

“But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge and increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.” (Daniel 11:38-39)

“That Day” — the Day of the Lord, hasn’t arrived yet. But one can almost see it, just over the horizon.

And before the Day of the Lord comes the day of ‘our gathering together unto Him’.

In his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, Paul was addressing a heresy that had crept into the church that the Rapture had already occurred and that the Thessalonians had been left behind.

Paul begins, saying, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:2-3)

Jesus described His Second Coming at the conclusion of the Tribulation this way;

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)

“For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27)

But Paul spoke of the ‘Day of Christ’ as the time of “our gathering together unto Him” and the Thessalonians clearly believed they had missed it.

Just as clearly, it was a doctrine established by Jesus Christ Himself that His Second Coming would be witnessed by ‘all the tribes of the earth’. They could not, logically, have feared they missed His Return at the end of the Tribulation.

Paul then explained why they could not have missed the Lord’s ‘gathering of us together unto Him’.

“And now ye know what withholdeth that he [antichrist] might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way.” (2:6-7)

There it is! The antichrist cannot be revealed until his ‘time’ which is AFTER the Restrainer of iniquity is ‘taken out of the way.’ Paul goes on to confirm that fact, saying, “And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed . . “(2:8)

The removal of the Restrainer of evil means the removal of the Church.

2nd Corinthians 1:21-22 promises “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”

The Spirit cannot be withdrawn from our hearts without invalidating that guarantee . . . and leaving us without His guidance as we endure the most terrible period of judgment the world has ever known.

Jesus promised, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. . .” (John 14:16)

“Forever” isn’t the same as, “Just until you will need Him the most.”

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed UNTO THE DAY OF REDEMPTION.” (Ephesians 4:30)

The Day of Redemption cannot be at the end of the Tribulation without the Holy Spirit having been withdrawn at least seven years earlier.

How does all this fit together? As noted, events are coming together so quickly that we are already engaged in the great spiritual war the culminates on the fields of Megiddo at the conclusion of the Tribulation.

And before that, “the Lord Himself will descend with a shout and the voice of the archangel and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Support the Troops, Oppose the War

Support the Troops, Oppose the War
Vol: 46 Issue: 27 Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania, Catherine Baker Knoll, showed up uninvited to the funeral of Marine S/Sgt. Joseph Goodrich on July 19. Sgt. Goodrich had been killed nine days earlier while serving in Iraq.

According to published reports, Lt. Governor Knoll did a little politicking while there, passing out business cards, glad-handing with the grieving relatives.

At one point, she tried to comfort one of those grieving relatives by saying, “I want you to know that our [Pennsylvania’s] government is against the war.”

Before we go any further, it is significant to note that Pennsylvania’s government has no right to be ‘against the war’. The decision to go to war is one granted under the Constitution to the Congress, not the individual states.

Ed Rendell, current governor of Pennsylvania, served as head of the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration, so he is highly experienced in spinning something negative into something positive, but even he couldn’t bring himself to support Knoll’s efforts to turn the death of a US Marine into a political opportunity.

Rendell immediately issued a damage-control statement saying, , “It’s not the business of state government to support the war, but our state supports the men and women who are fighting this war.”

Rendell is correct, as I already noted. States have no right to take sides against the federal government in areas where the federal government has Constitutional jurisdiction. Politicians swear an oath to defend and support the United States, and individual states have the same obligation.

But what about the question of supporting US forces who are fighting the war, while opposing the war itself? Is that possible?

No less a personage that former president Bill Clinton, who, at the time, was facing impeachment, announced to America, “You can’t say you love your country but that you hate your government.”

To be sure, Clinton was lying, because his lips were moving. All he was trying to do at the time was try and gin up a little sympathy for himself, but he inadvertently stumbled into making a truthful statement, nonetheless.

It is impossible to love one’s country but hate one’s government, for two reasons. The first is that the government — in the United States, at least — is elected by the majority of the states. The hated federal government is therefore, put into power by the majority of the citizens of the country one claims to love.

But, some may argue, Al Gore got slightly more of the popular vote than did Bush in Election 2000, so that means the majority of the country really wanted Gore. Untrue.

Presidents are elected through the Electoral College system mandated by the Constitution. Al Gore got slightly more popular votes, but had he been elected by the popular vote, Al Gore would not have been the choice of the country, but rather the choice of a few states.

A look at the Red State/Blue State map illustrates that fact.

That is why the Electoral College system exists — to ensure that the Chief Executive represents the choice of the majority of the states, rather than the choice of just the most populous states.

The Chief Executive therefore, is the representative of the States. If one hates one’s government because it represents the view of the other political party, then love of country is replaced by love of party.

Assessment:

Loving one’s country means the same thing as loving one’s family. You may not agree with everyone in your family, but when one member of that family faces a tragedy, or a threat, or a looming disaster, the family closes ranks in defense.

Even when a family member is charged with some highly public and particularly heinous crime, such as Michael Jackson’s serial pedophilia charges, the Jackson family closed ranks in solidarity with their brother.

It is highly unlikely, (to me, at least) that the Jackson family can’t see how weird the guy is. (None of them, to my knowledge, is blind.)

They might be a bit weird themselves — some of them, at least. (How many times has YOUR sister exposed her breast on national TV at a Super Bowl show?)

But while Michael, the King of Weird, was facing charges that he molested little boys, even the least weird members of the Jackson family expressed unequivocal support for him.

But that is to be expected. When a family member is in danger or under attack, the rest of the family closes ranks — to the degree that, had one Jackson broken ranks and declared Michael’s behavior with children reprehensible, it would have been headline news.

Why? Because it is reprehensible for a 46 year old man to sleep nude with other people’s children? THAT isn’t news. We ALREADY know that is reprehensible behavior.

It would have been headline news because if one of the Jacksons had broken ranks, the fact it came from a family member would have had increased the credibility of the charges against Michael.

Stay with me, I am about to tie it together. It isn’t about Michael Jackson — he is merely the illustration of my point. The point is that Jackson family closed ranks around Michael Jackson.

Do you believe the rest of the family also sleeps with little boys? Do you think they think it is ok? Did you ever once think that the Jackson solidarity was because the whole family were a bunch of pedophiles? Or that the rest of the family didn’t KNOW Michael slept with little boys or that it was both socially and legally unacceptable?

But when it came to facing the threat to Michael Jackson’s existence as he knew it, they were all as weird as they had to be — out of love of family.

Domestically, we also have the left, the middle and the right. Externally, we are facing a threat to America’s continued existence as we know it. There are those within all three political positions who recognize the need to close ranks.

They love their country enough to be as weird as necessary, so to speak, in order to preserve it’s continued existence. Once the threat has passed, there will be plenty of time for internal disagreements.

But those who break ranks to declare America’s behavior ‘reprehensible’ grab all the news headlines. The reason? For the same reason a member of the Jackson family testifying for the prosecution would be headline news.

Because it was a family member that turned against the family, that testimony would be incredibly powerful evidence. Family members don’t turn against one another without extraordinary reasons.

Had one of Michael Jackson’s family corroborated the evidence against Michael Jackson, he would be in prison, the family would have been shattered, and the Jackson who turned state’s evidence would have been regarded as a traitor by his family, and probably by most other observers.

Even though most would argue that it took great courage to do ‘the right thing’ (the mantra of the Left — since they claim everything the Right does is the ‘wrong’ thing) — most would also share the Jackson family assessment that it was a betrayal of the family itself.

Right now, US troops are in harm’s way, fighting for a cause that they are being told is not worthy dying for by members of their own ‘family’ — who in the same breath, claim that they both support the troops and the ‘family’ they are fighting for.

It is the equivalent to Germaine Jackson claiming to support his brother Michael and expressing solidarity with his family while simultaneously offering to testify against him for the prosecution.

It might sound noble from the perspective of the prosecutor, but it doesn’t bespeak much loyalty from the perspective of the family fighting to keep him out of prison and the family intact.

As I said, the analogy isn’t perfect — I in no way intend to compare George Bush to Michael Jackson or America to the Jackson family. But there are comparable elements, if one is willing to stretch an analogy to its breaking point — as I am doing here.

(I hope I didn’t snap it altogether.)

The point was the way that families tend to close ranks when threatened — whether they agree with the reasons behind the threat or not.

Given the nature of the charges against Michael, if ever a family had cause to betray their brother and claim the moral high ground, it would have been in this instance. Had they, the damage would have been incalculable.

The whistleblower might have been able to bask in his public nobility, but his family would pay the price for his glory.

America is facing a ‘prosecution’ from an enemy dedicated to its destruction. The dedication is rooted in the belief America is guilty of an offense that justifies its destruction.

And there are no shortage of American officials willing to testify for the prosecution — because they think it might hurt the hated Bush administration, which is, as previously noted, their own government.

While claiming to support our troops and love their country.

“How Do They Hate Thee? Let Them Count the Ways . . . How About, Ummm, Twenty?”

“How Do They Hate Thee? Let Them Count the Ways . . . How About, Ummm, Twenty?”
Vol: 46 Issue: 26 Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I have been studying the Koran and the background story of Islam as it relates to the West since long before the majority in the West had begun to realize the threat fundamental Islam poses to the non-Islamic world.

It first got my attention during the OPEC crisis that accompanied the Yom Kippur War in 1973. That was when I came to realize that Islam is as much political as it is religious, making it a doubly-potent threat.

The Framers of the Constitution recognized the danger posed by a theocratic government, which is why they included the provision prohibiting Congress from establishing a state religion.

Often (and incorrectly) called the ‘separation’ clause; the relevant part of the 1st Amendment says that the “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . .”

We won’t go into the extremist interpretation of it as now applied by an activist judiciary, that’s for another topic. The reason that the Framers included that clause was because they recognized the danger inherent in any form of government that presumed to speak for God.

There is no more deadly form of government than a theocracy. That is why I thank the Lord we don’t have a president who makes decisions based on his understanding of the Bible.

I want a president who has the spiritual integrity of a Christian, one who trusts God and believes the Scriptures, but I don’t want him governing according to his interpretation of Scripture.

Scripture is infallible, men are not. George Bush’s understanding of the Bible is not the same as mine. I sure don’t want him making decisions based on the Methodist view of Bible prophecy and Israel.

The Koran is somewhat different, in that it authorizes its clerics to be infallible and speak on Allah’s behalf via the issuance of a fatwa, or cleric’s ruling.

Hence, Osama bin Laden’s fatwa of jihad against the United States and Israel has the infallibility of Allah to those who follow Osama.

Iran’s Islamic Republic is a theocracy. It is ruled by clerics who also are authorized to speak for Allah. One famous example is Iran’s fatwa ordering the death of British author Salman Rushdie for blasphemy following the publication of his book, “The Satanic Verses.”

Iranian government agents fanned out across Europe to kill him. Scotland Yard has been hiding Rushdie for almost twenty years, now.

The United States is not a theocracy — by design — although it is known universally as ‘the world’s most Christian’ nation. Israel, interestingly enough, is ALSO not a theocracy, again by design, although it is the world’s ONLY Jewish nation.

Judaism is the state religion of Israel, but Israel is governed as a secular state. Its clerics have no binding authority over Israel’s government.

Paradoxically, the fact that the world’s most Christian nation and the world’s only Jewish nations are NOT governed as theocracies is what gives Islam its strategic edge.

Assessment:

Islam, even five years after 9/11, remains a mystery to the Western mind. George Bush apparently is convinced, for example, that Islam is a religion of peace and love that has been perverted by a minority of its adherents, whom he terms, oddly enough, ‘fundamentalists’.

It is so mysterious to the Western mind that it evidently makes it somewhat loopy. How can the ‘fundamentals’ of a religion of ‘peace and love’ simultaneously form the basic doctrine of Islamic terrorism?

If the ‘fundamentals’ of a religion are death and destruction, how is it possible that it is, as practiced by the majority of its adherents, a religion of ‘peace and love’?

It is this loopy Western understanding of Islam that makes the members of the international ‘Quartet’ believe they can impose their ‘road map to peace’ on Israel and the Palestinians and eventually bring about peace.

The Palestinian ‘people’ are an Islamic construct not found in history. Prior to 1967, the Arabs now called the Palestinian people were citizens of Jordan or Egypt.

If there is a Palestinian ‘people’ — they would be Jordanian. Jordan’s population is 80% ‘Palestinian’ and different from those ‘Palestinians’ on the West Bank only in that they live on the other side of the Jordan River.

The ‘Palestinian people’ are motivated, not by aspirations to statehood, but by religious hatred of Israel and the Islamic goal of Israel’s destruction and the imposition of an Islamic state in its place.

No imposed peace, or grant of statehood will bring peace to Israel. The Western mind doesn’t fully grasp the meaning of the sentence, “The goal is not an Islamic Palestinian state BESIDE Israel, it is an Islamic Palestinian State INSTEAD of Israel.”

The following are a few excerpts from a Q&A session from Islam Online’s fatwa database.

The question was, “What, according to the Koran, are the main characteristics and qualities of the Jews?”

The answer began with a quote from a fatwa issued by Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, in which he states the following:

“The Qur an has specified a considerable deal of its verses to talking about Jews, their personal qualities and characteristics. THE QUR ANIC DESCRIPTION OF JEWS IS QUITE IMPARTIAL; [emphasis mine] praising them in some occasions where they deserve praise and condemning them in other occasions where they practice blameworthy acts. Yet, the latter occasions outnumbered the former, due to their bad qualities and the heinous acts they used to commit. The Qur an praises them on the verse that reads: And verily We gave the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Command and the Prophethood, and provided them with good things and favored them above (all) peoples. (Al-Jathiyah:16) i.e. the peoples of their time.”

The ‘impartial Koranic’ view of the Jews as understood by mainstream Islam is divided into the ‘good’ and ‘the bad’. On the ‘good’ side . . . well, that was all the ‘Sheikh’ had to say. On the bad side, however, the Koran’s ‘quite impartial’ evaluation of the Jews included TWENTY ‘bad’ characteristics.

I’ll summarize the list, and I’ll post a link to the actual fatwa posted on the website version of today’s OL for those who want to investigate it more deeply. But this is the evaluation of the Jews, as viewed by the Koran, the wellspring of the Islamic mainstream religion of ‘peace and love’:

1. They used to fabricate things and falsely ascribe them to Allah.

2. They love to listen to lies.

3. Disobeying Almighty Allah and never observing His commands.

4. Disputing and quarreling.

5. Hiding the truth and standing for misleading.

6. Staging rebellion against the Prophets and rejecting their guidance.

7. Hypocrisy.

8. Giving preference to their own interests over the rulings of religion and the dictates of truth.

9. Wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them

10. They feel pain to see others in happiness and are gleeful when others are afflicted with a calamity.

11. They are known of their arrogance and haughtiness.

12. Utilitarianism and opportunism are among their innate traits.

13. Their impoliteness and indecent way of speech is beyond description.

14. It is easy for them to slay people and kill innocents. Nothing in the world is dear to their hearts than shedding blood and murdering human beings.

15. They are merciless and heartless.

16. They never keep their promises or fulfill their words.

17. They rush hurriedly to sins and compete in transgression.

18. Cowardice and their love for this worldly life are their undisputable traits.

19. Miserliness runs deep in their hearts.

20. Distorting Divine Revelation and Allah s Sacred Books.

Had enough? Well, there’s more. After listing the above, (which included the Koranic chapter and verse plus a short summary — which I omitted for the sake of space) the Sheikh went on to say,

“After this clear explanation, we would like to note that these are but some of the most famous traits of the Jews as described in the Qur an. They have revolted against the Divine ordinances, distorted what has been revealed to them and invented new teachings which, they claimed, were much more better than what has been recorded in the Torah.”

These are “but some of the most famous” examples of the evils inherent in the Jewish race, according to this source of Islamic theological understanding.

The Sheikh concluded that, “All this gives us glad tidings of the coming victory of Muslims over them once Muslims stick to strong faith and belief in Allah and adopt the modern means of technology.”

This is the mainstream understanding within Islam of the nature and character of the country that the Quartet believes can live side by side in peace with a new Islamic State of Palestine. If only Israel will just trust their security to the good intentions of the Palestinian Authority, and to the security guarantees offered Israel by impartial mediators like Russia, the United Nations, the United States and, last but not least, the European Union.

This morning, I was interrupted by a telephone call from a very nice lady from a documentary production company producing a documentary on the last days for National Geographic. The purpose was to determine if I would make a suitable interviewee for the program. One of the questions that she asked me was why I believed that we are living in the last days before the return of Christ. She asked me to give the most compelling example of evidence to support my contention.

I outlined Daniel’s prophecy of the false peace covenant as it compared to the current peace process. When I was finished explaining it, she offered to fly me to New York to tape my segments in August.

The point to my mentioning that phone call isn’t that I explained it well, or that I am smart, or particularly charming. The point is that the evidence is so abundantly clear. (And partly to explain why I am running a bit late)

These ARE the last days. The Lord is coming soon. Even National Geographic is starting to wonder, “Can it be true?”

It not only CAN be true. It is.

Islam Online’s “Jews as Depicted inthe Qu’ran”

“As By Fire”

“As By Fire”
Vol: 46 Issue: 25 Monday, July 25, 2005

There are many ministries and church denominations that either ignore Bible prophecy as being useful to the Church or argue that all Bible prophecy has already been fulfilled.

In many churches, those members who study Bible prophecy are relegated to the ‘lunatic fringe’ — politely — and sometimes not so politely — dismissed out-of-hand for wasting their time trying to divine the future.

The Bible says that there are rewards for those who dedicate themselves to Christ in a number of different theological disciplines.

Christians must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ that we might receive a reward for the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or whether they be bad.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is not related to the revelation of some secret sin, that the Judgment seat of Christ is not related to the revelation of some hidden fault, but rather, the Judgment Seat of Christ is related to the manifestation of all of the deeds that individuals have done after they have become Christians, whether they be good or whether they be bad.

Let me emphasize that the word “bad” refers not to sin, but to deeds that are worthless according to His purpose. The evaluation, therefore, is based upon whether the works that have been done are worthwhile or whether they are worthless.

The Greek word translated as the ‘judgment seat’ of Christ is the word ‘bema’. During the Greek Olympics of Paul’s day, the judge would sit on the ‘Bema Seat’ situated along the finish line. His judgment was to determine who won the gold, who won the silver, who won the bronze, who came in fourth, fifth, etc. Note that the only ones judged at the Bema Seat are those who cross the finish line.

The Bema Seat is reserved for believers — those who successfully completed the ‘race’ and specifically to determine their running order and to award their prizes.

Scripture teaches that after these works are judged, rewards will be given if the works are worthy. There will be no rewards if the works were unworthy, but ; “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:15)

If you get to the Bema Seat, you will make it into heaven. And you get to the Bema Seat by accepting the judgment for sin borne by Jesus Christ on the Cross as a substitute for your own failures — nobody gets there based on whether or not they are sinners.

It is based on whether or not you trust that Jesus Christ made full payment for your sins, as He promised He would. While we will stand before the Judge as judicially ‘righteous’ — that righteousness is Christ’s freely offered to whosoever will accept it.

Once we stand before the Bema Seat, our rewards are determined — not our punishment. Our punishment, although richly deserved, has already been borne by our Savior. Now, we are judged according to our works on behalf of the kingdom.

There are those who argue, “You know, I don’t think we ought to talk about our rewards. We ought to serve the Lord just because we love Him.”

I agree. We ought to serve Him because we love Him, but we have every right and reason in the world to talk about our rewards. We have every reason to seek the very best reward that we can when we stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

There is nothing selfish about that; it is thoroughly Scriptural.

Assessment:

There is the ‘incorruptible crown’ — what one might term a crown of self-denial. 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 teaches:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Not everybody will receive the crown of self-denial. Each of us is gifted with certain strengths according to some predetermined purpose of God. In other words, some things are harder for some than they are for others — according to God’s purposes — not our own. We are judged according to how hard we try.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1st Corinthians 12:4-7)

There is also the Crown of Rejoicing — the ‘Soul Winner’s Crown’.

Philippians 4:1: “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord.” Note that Paul is addressing people as a ‘crown’. He is saying to those whom Paul has led to Christ, “You are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by.”

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?” Translated literally, it reads, “are not even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when we stand before Him?”

“One of these days,” the Apostle says, “we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you Philippians, you Thessalonians, are going to be my crown.”

It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a crown, but Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

James 1:12 identifies the ‘Crown of Life’: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

Notice the word “temptation.” That is a broad word. Sometimes it means a solicitation to evil–that is, you are tempted to commit murder, or you are tempted to commit adultery. It is a solicitation to evil. Sometimes it is a reference to a test that God permits you to go through as a kind of ‘refinement by fire’.

The ‘Crown of Life” might also be called the ‘Crown of Endurance.” The Lord Himself also speaks of the Crown of Life reward, promising: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

‘Faithful unto death’ is not a condition of salvation — salvation comes by grace through faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin at the Cross. The Crown of Endurance won’t be given to every believer — the Scriptures say of even those who receive NO crowns, as previously noted, “he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.”

There is the Crown of Glory — the crown of the ‘undershepherd’ or the ‘pastor’s crown’.

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1st Peter 5:1-4)

Not every pastor or undershepherd will receive this crown, either. There are those who will fail the test of willing service (not for filthy lucre) or those who set themselves up as ‘lords over God’s heritage’ instead of being examples to their flocks, or those who fail to feed their charges with God’s Word.

Finally, there is the Crown of Righteousness.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 1:8)

Those who study prophecy, those who dedicate themselves as watchmen on the wall, ready to give the warning of His soon appearing, will receive the Crown of Righteousness from the Righteous Judge at the Bema Seat.

Literally, the Crown of Righteousness means ‘a crown for doing right.’ Paul is saying, “I have loved the appearing of the Lord. Because I have loved the appearing of the Lord, I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.”

Note what Paul did NOT say. He did NOT say, “If you keep the faith, you will receive the Crown of Righteousness.” Instead, he says, “If you love His appearing, you will.”

Personally, I am not certain that I will receive the crown of self denial. I am not too sure that I keep my body under control enough to deserve this reward. I am not too sure I will win the soulwinner’s crown, although it is one I really, really hope to receive.

I am not sure that I will get the Crown of Glory — as an undershepherd, I have many shortcomings. One example of my failure to properly shepherd my charge is the uproar in the member’s forum, an uproar I addressed this morning under the subject heading, “What is happening here?”

I pray for the Crown of Life for enduring life’s trials — but I am not certain that I have endured them with the long-suffering love of Christ as I should. So I am not sure about that one, either.

But I am hopeful of the Crown of Righteousness — it is the easiest one to get. My righteousness is not my own, but that of Christ’s, and my love of His soon appearing is an all-consuming passion.

The point to it all is this: We will all one day stand before the Bema Seat — but the Bema Seat is where we are judged for our rewards. Whether or not I receive all — or any — of the rewards that are available to me as a believer, I have the certain assurance that, even if I suffer loss, I will still enter heaven, even if it is ‘as if by fire’.

And so will all those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation.

Maranatha! For those of you I don’t get to meet in this life, I look forward to seeing you at the Bema Seat. Do me a favor, though.

Plug your ears when it gets to my turn.

What’s Up with the Weather?

What’s Up with the Weather?
Vol: 46 Issue: 23 Saturday, July 23, 2005

What’s Up with the Weather?

It’s pretty hot in my little corner of paradise on the mid-Atlantic coast, but compared to some places around the country, its pretty comfortable.

Officials of the National Weather Service say more than 200 heat records have been broken in the West during the last two weeks.

Tuesday, Las Vegas tied its record for any date, 117 degrees. Reno and other locations in Nevada have set records with nine consecutive days of temperatures at 100 or higher.

The temperature in Denver hit 105 degrees on Thursday, shattering a record that has stood unchallenged since 1878.

At least fourteen people have died as a result of the heat in Phoenix, where daytime highs have been around 110 degrees for a week.

In Bullhead City, Arizona, the thermometer climbed to 124 on Sunday. The owner of the local Baskin Robbins claimed the heat melted a scoop of ice cream in eight seconds.

Death Valley topped out at 128 degrees Monday, a level not reached for many decades.

The utility that handles the flow of power to three-quarters of California customers declared a Stage 2 emergency Thursday and Friday, the first time in two years such a declaration has been made.

Stage 2 means that electric utilities are within 5 percent of running out of electricity and interruption of power to some customers is possible.

I talked with Hal Lindsey yesterday. In the Palm Desert community where he lives, brownouts have cut air conditioning to most homes, including his. Hal said it was 115 degrees and their only relief from the heat is a few fans and a swimming pool that feels like a hot tub.

The heatwave has forced airlines to cancel more than two dozen flights this week, remove passengers from fully loaded planes, limit the number of tickets sold on some flights and take other measures to withstand the heat.

Aircraft manufacturers customarily set temperature limits at which their planes can be safely operated. In some places, it is literally too hot to fly.

The sweltering July comes after a very warm June. The average temperature across the contiguous United States last month was 0.9 degrees above the 1895-2004 mean, according to NOAA.

Globally, 2004 was fourth warmest year ever recorded. And global climate mechanisms already in place led scientists to predict back in February that this year will likely be the warmest year in history.

In Europe so far this summer, at least thirty people have died as a result of the heat, and the past week has set even more records.

One heat wave does not prove that the world is getting hotter, but this week’s weather fits a global trend which has seen previous records shattered with increasing regularity.

In nine out of the past 12 years, average temperatures worldwide have been higher than at any time since records began in the 19th century and it is very likely that the 1990s were the warmest decade for 1000 years.

Warming in the 20th century is, according to some scientists, advancing at a faster pace than at any time during the past 400 to 600 years.

For several months now, temperatures across Europe have been, on average, five degrees warmer. Sea temperatures in the Mediterranean region are two to three degrees warmer and reached their peak a month earlier than usual.

Assessment:

Since 1980, the earth has experienced 19 of its 20 hottest years on record, with 1998 the hottest and 2002 and 2003 coming in second and third.

In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1500 deaths in India, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Earth Policy Institute (EPI), based in Washington DC, puts the European 2003 death toll from heat waves even higher, reported 35,000 deaths.

According to NASA, the polar ice cap is now melting at the alarming rate of nine percent per decade. Arctic ice thickness has decreased 40 percent since the 1960s. The current pace of sea-level rise is three times the historical rate and appears to be accelerating.

Global sea level has already risen by four to eight inches in the past century. Scientists’ best estimate is that sea level will rise by an additional 19 inches by 2100, and perhaps by as much as 37 inches.

In addition to the heat, the 1999-2002 national drought in the US was one of the three most extensive droughts in the last 40 years. In 2002, the Western United States experienced its second worst wildfire season in the last 50 years.

And when it DOES rain, it pours. National annual precipitation has increased between 5 and 10 percent since the early 20th century.

Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts each got more than double their normal monthly rainfall in June 1998. Severe flooding in the Texas, Montana, and North Dakota during the summer of 2002 caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

Hurricane activity over the past ten years has also exhibited a dramatic increase in both frequency and intensity.

The reasons for the shifting weather patterns are plentiful and varied; some scientists claim that it is a direct result of global warming brought on by an increase in greenhouse gases.

As the planet’s surface warms, so does the ocean’s surface. The warmer the water, the more destructive the hurricane.

NOAA’s Atlantic hurricane outlook reflects an expected continuation of above-average activity that began in 1995.

Since that time all but two Atlantic hurricane seasons have been above-normal. The Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends November 30.

On the other hand, there is a significant percentage of the scientific community that scoffs at the global warming argument, claiming that the unusual weather patterns we’re experiencing is just part of the normal climactic cycle.

The reason, they say, that we are seeing all the record-shattering is because we haven’t been keeping records all that long — for the most part, our records only go back to somewhere in the middle of the 19th century.

I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know if the shifting weather patterns are a result of global warming or if they are just part of some overall climatic cycle.

What I DO know is that the shift is real. It started in the mid-point of the 20th century, and the weather pattern shifts have been increasing in frequency and intensity ever since.

If global warming is the result of human activity, then the only way to reverse it is for the human activity that causes it to cease. Since global climate changes take a long time to effect, they take just as long to reverse.

And to reverse it, — assuming the global warming theory is accurate, we need to scrap ALL our cars, virtually all of our energy production sources, shut down all polluting industry, stop cutting down trees to build houses . . . and we have to do so on a GLOBAL basis.

The worst polluters, despite popular conventional wisdom, are not the Americans, but rather the emerging economies of countries like Russia and China. They would have to put the brakes on their industrial expansion and all of us, on a global basis, would have to roll back the clocks, technologically speaking, to the late 19th century.

The human population would have to stop expanding, eliminating the need to clear rainforests, die younger, or pretty much stop having babies altogether for the next ten or twenty years until all the geezers like me have all died off.

To do less than that would only slow the global warming process, not reverse it. Since that isn’t going to happen, it means that global warming, if that is what we are experiencing, will continue to get worse until the planet becomes uninhabitable. In other words, by any reasonable scientific estimate, we’re doomed.

Does it impress anybody else besides me that this is happening NOW?

At this particular point in history? In the same generation that saw the restoration of Israel, the revival of the Roman Empire, the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, and the emergence of new, deadly strains of antibiotic resistant virus and disease?

“And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

In reply, Jesus warned of “wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:3,6-8)

If the 1948 generation has an historical legacy, it is that of wars and ‘rumors’ of wars. The Cold War, which lasted from 1948 until 1991, was more of a rumor of war than it was a shooting war.

Yet it was at the same time, the most potentially deadly war that mankind had faced to that point in history. Meanwhile, ethnic wars have raged, unabated, since the death of European colonialism following World War II.

Famines raged throughout the world, in tandem with the greatest creation of wealth in human history.

Earthquake activity has increased in both frequency and intensity since 1948, while many of the killer diseases that once scourged mankind were thought to be eliminated by new advancements with antibiotic drugs, only to be replaced by new, hardier strains of old diseases, accompanied by brand new ones like AIDS. Earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” (Luke 21:25-26)

That pretty much sums up the last decade . . . indeed, Jesus prediction, made nearly two thousand years ago, reads like a 21st century scientific explanation for global warming, right down to describing mankind’s response to what would be, in about two thousand years, to the ’emerging’ threat.

The scientific projections being made as a consequence of global warming are the identical projections the Apostle John made almost two thousand years ago as the consequences of God’s judgment on a Christ-rejecting world following the end of the Church Age.

“The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up. And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.” (Revelation 8:7-9)

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give Him glory.” (Revelation 16:8-9)

When climatologists are not warning of impending ecological disaster, astronomers take the podium to warn of the threat of a catastrophic asteroid strike upon the earth.

Nations have invested billions in efforts to scour outer space, looking for the Big One, and are spending billions more trying to figure out how to deflect it.

A major asteroid strike somewhere in the earth’s oceans, they say, would cause a tsunami that would make last’s year’s Asian tsunami look like a minor ocean ripple in comparison.

NASA estimates such a strike (the earth is five sixths water) would create tsunami waves that would wash hundreds of miles inland everywhere along the coasts of the ocean that absorbed the impact.

Such a strike would literally kill tens of millions, either from drowning, or from the ecological impact that would follow.

All the fresh water resources within the tsunami’s impact area would be polluted by salt water, dirt and debris.

“And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters; And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.”(Revelation 8:11)

Disease would claim as many, if not more lives, than the tsunami itself. Those not killed outright or by disease would have to cope with the anarchy and lawlessness that would follow.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:8)

Maybe its just me, but I can’t buy the coincidence theory to explain why the prophecies of the Bible for the last days read exactly like the headlines from the paper for the last week

Jesus said that all these things would come upon the earth during a single generation, somewhere in time.

The process has already begun. Whether one ascribes it to global warming, natural climatic cycles, the unprecedented sunspot activity, or just bad luck, one can’t get around the fact that it is taking place exactly as foretold by Scripture, in pretty much the exact order, and at pretty much the exact period the Bible said it would.

“. . . and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24-25)

It is a terrifying scenario, but to those who put their faith in Jesus, it is proof positive of His soon return to fulfill His promise;

“In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3)

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Judicial Chaos By Design

Judicial Chaos By Design
Vol: 46 Issue: 22 Friday, July 22, 2005

The opposition to Judge John Roberts’ Supreme Court is already looking for ways to obfuscate the Senate confirmation hearings, even as they admit that Roberts will probably eventually be confirmed.

That’s interesting on two levels; the first is the tacit admission that opposition to Roberts’ nomination is automatic. The Democrats have already promised to fight whoever is nominated, regardless of whether or not they have a reason to oppose him.

The various Democratic organizations in charge of such things, like Moveon.org, already had their teams assembled, funding in place, and rules of engagement defined before Roberts was even nominated.

The fact that neither they (nor anybody else) knows whether Roberts would make a good justice or not is evidently irrelevant, since the object of the exercise is to impede the Bush administration wherever possible.

A Supreme Court appointment is just about the most important thing a president gets to do; such appointments are for life and the judicial philosophy a justice brings to the Court can shape the course of American juriprudence for decades to come.

Secondly, they plan to go ahead and mount their assault — even though they expect him to be confirmed anyway!

Why do I think it is so interesting? Because, as important as a Supreme Court justice is, they really don’t care if Roberts would be a good one and they aren’t even pretending that they do. They are opposing him on spec. Because Roberts was nominated by George Bush.

Let me say up front that I don’t know much about Roberts myself. I don’t know if he is necessarily the best candidate out there, or whether Bush selected him as the candidate least likely to offend the opposition on the left.

The Democrats have promised (with their fingers crossed) not to tie up the Roberts nomination with endless procedural delays, and promised to give Roberts nomination a fair hearing.

But there is something about watching them build the gallows before the trial has even started that makes me glad I’m not John Roberts.

(“Don’t worry. First we’ll try you, all nice and legal-like. THEN we’ll hang you.”)

The anti-Anybody Bush Appoints committee, led by Charles Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has already demanded the Bush hand over internal legal memorandums from the period when he served as a US deputy solicitor general.

The solicitor general is the government’s lawyer; his client is the United States. Every administration has claimed the same lawyer-client privilege as any citizen.

It is not some ‘executive privilege’ claim, some of which are legitimate, but most often is invoked to avoid some political embarrassment. This is different.

The solicitor general and the United States have a lawyer-client privilege. Roberts was the government’s lawyer. He can’t reveal details of his work for the government. And Roberts served as the government’s lawyer from 1989 to 1993, encompassing both the Bush and Clinton administrations. Not even the United States Senate can compel a lawyer to break lawyer-client privilege.

Schumer knows this. That is why he’s demanding it – because he knows the administration won’t — can’t comply. It is the 21st century equivalent to ‘borking’ — it’s even got a name. “Estradafication.”

It is how the Democrats blocked an earlier Bush nominee to a lower court. They demanded legally privileged documents from Miguel Estrada, and when the administration refused, they blocked his nomination by filibuster.

Noted Senator John Cornyn of Texas, “This tactic was first fielded against Miguel Estrada, recently perfected with the nomination of John Bolton, and now some are fully primed to Estradify this fine nominee.”

Assessment:

I don’t know if John Roberts is a ‘fine nominee’ or not. I do know that present Supreme Court is one of the most liberal activist courts in US history — and seven of the nine current justices were Republican appointees.

(Being a Republican appointee is evidently no guarantee one will automatically be a conservative justice, despite the spin being put out by the left.)

A tally taken by The Washington Times of 100 senators earlier this week found 44 in support of Judge Roberts and another 15 — including several Democrats — undecided but who have made positive comments.

So, it appears that Roberts already has enough votes to be confirmed, and barring some major shakeup, Roberts even has enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

So why the fight? When Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsberg — an unabashed liberal and former ACLU lawyer, there were enough Democrats to guarantee her confirmation, just as there are enough votes now to confirm Roberts.

Knowing that Ginsberg’s nomination would pass anyway, the Republicans put away their machetes and Ginsberg salied through the nomination process.

Ginsburg went from nomination to confirmation in less than seven weeks with little Republican opposition despite the fact she flatly refused to give her opinions on hot-button issues like abortion, gun control and gay rights.

Clinton made two appointments to the Supreme Court, both openly and unabashedly liberals; Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. Ginsberg was approved 96-3 and Breyer 87-9.

So why gear up for a big fight over Roberts? So far, the Democrats haven’t been able to come up with any real reason to reject Roberts — indeed, there are more conservatives with reservations about him than there are liberals.

Their purpose is not to select the ‘right’ Supreme Court justice, it is to foul up the process and embarrass the administration as much as possible.

That is why they are demanding privileged documents they know they won’t get. To hold things up, to block the progress of government, and to make life as difficult as possible for George Bush.

The fact that it makes things difficult for the rest of the country is irrelevant, except to the degree that they hope a frustrated public will give in to what is the equivalent to political extortion and return them to power.

In effect, they are telling the rest of the country that the only way to prevent the Democrats from blocking effective government is to let them be in charge.

It isn’t that they expect to prove they can do a better job of governing, but rather that they can do a better job of stonewaling government than the Republicans can.

I’ve even heard some of the dimmer bulbs in the Democratic spin machine argue that Justice Sandra Day O’Conner’s seat was some kind of official ‘moderate’ or ‘swing’ seat and therefore, it should be filled by someone with a similar judicial philosophy in order to keep the court ‘balanced.’

Supreme Court slots aren’t designed or designated as conservative, liberal or moderate. And the argument itself is laughable. The present court is both out of balance and out of control.

None of this matters. None of this is being seriously considered by Roberts’ opponents. The only thing that matters is hurting the Bush administration — as if it were some alien administration of a hostile foreign government.

But the Bush administration is more than a guy from Texas that they don’t like. It is the government of the United States of America, and will be, until January 20th, 2009.

Unless they can find a way to bring it down earlier — and the rest of us with it.

On Death and Dying

On Death and Dying
Vol: 46 Issue: 21 Thursday, July 21, 2005

I hate death. Not so much in the usual sense — few people I can think of would say they are particularly fond of the idea. Those who know their eternal destiny might be a bit more introspective about it, but not all.

My hatred for death is personal; as if death were an individual with whom I have had too many fist fights and not once ever landed a solid punch.

I fight death, I curse death, and death ducks every time I throw a punch, then steps back and mocks me. Man, I hate death!

Yesterday, I walked down to the beach to watch the sunset. It is especially beautiful to watch the sun seemingly sink into the ocean on the horizon.

The Carolina sky takes on the most gorgeous pastel colors I’ve ever seen; the clouds look like they were painted against an impossibly blue background with colors I’ve never seen duplicated anywhere else.

As I walked down the boardwalk, I noticed a small crowd of people standing in a circle. Lying on the ground was my friend, B. Y. Nobody knows what B. Y.’s real name is, although he’s been a local character around here for as long as anybody can remember.

He hailed from somewhere near Biloxi, Mississippi, and he once mentioned that he wished he could take a trip back home to see his mom. I offered to spring for his bus ticket, but he confided he wouldn’t know what to say.

He hadn’t seen his family in almost twenty years.

B. Y. was a hopeless drunk, seldom had a job, usually existed by sleeping on somebody’s back porch, but we all made sure he was fed and had a couple of bucks in his pocket.

I’ve always had an affinity for guys like B. Y. — they serve as a constant reminder that, “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Guys like B. Y. serve to remind me of how much God has blessed me, and how much I owe my fellow man who, for reasons known only to God, is not as blessed as I.

B. Y. and I used to talk about life, death, and his relationship with the Lord. I had witnessed to him previously, and B. Y. always assured me that he knew was saved and knew his eternal destiny.

I asked him once how he reconciled his life with his faith, and he shrugged, saying, “That’s the way God made me. I’ll ask Him about it one day.”

It was only yesterday morning that B. Y. stopped by my house to see if I had any odd jobs for him to do. I was in the middle of writing yesterday’s OL at the time, so I only had time to share a cup of coffee with him before sending him on his way.

As I walked up, it was obvious to me at first glance that B. Y. was dead. He had collapsed on the boardwalk, and I suppose that those who passed by him initially thought he had passed out drunk.

(It wouldn’t have been the first time. I’ve helped him off the boardwalk in that condition and over to the more comfortable (and safer) sand of the beach myself, several times.)

Not this time. The paramedics told me that he had probably been dead for forty-five minutes before anybody thought to check on him. They suspect he died of a drug overdose. He was forty-six years old.

I am going to miss B. Y.

Assessment:

I sat on the seawall, not twenty feet from where B. Y.’s body lay, and through the tears, I watched the sunset that I came to see, and had me a little talk with God about poor B. Y.

I prayed that B. Y. was telling me the truth, and that, even as his wasted body lay dead in the middle of the boardwalk, his spirit was in the presence of the Lord.

I prayed and meditated about Romans 10:13 and its unequivocal promise, “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved,” and prayed that B. Y. indeed had, at some point in his life, made that call.

I’ve given considerable thought to death, how much I hate it, and the reasons why. The first reason, of course, is pure selfishness.

For all his faults, B. Y. was always respectful of me, went out of his way whenever he could to do me a service, and once leapt to my defense when somebody dismissed me a ‘Bible thumper’.

We had nothing in common, but he was my friend, nevertheless. I liked him.

Death has claimed another friend, and, selfishly, I will miss him.

I hate death because it causes so much pain to those left behind. And I hate death because death eliminates second chances. B. Y. won’t get to make that trip to Biloxi to see his mother. He won’t get another chance to hug her.

She won’t get the chance to see her boy, and, whatever the cause of their estrangement, there will never be another chance to make things right.

Worst of all, if B. Y. hadn’t trusted his eternity to Jesus and was just politely brushing me off, then he won’t get a second chance to decide where he will spend it.

With the recent death of my best friend, Wylie, still an open wound in my heart, and now, with B. Y.’s death taking place right before my eyes, I decided to take another look at what the Bible says happens when we die.

I’ve heard it argued that when a person dies, they remain in the grave, physically dead and spiritually asleep until the Rapture.

Following that argument, there is no sense of time, since eternity is a dimension independent of time, so, although one might be in the grave for thousands of years, from the perspective of its occupant, no time actually elapses at all.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:8) That verse is used as often to argue against ‘soul sleep’ as it is used to defend it.

If there is no sense of elapsed time, then the loss of physical consciousness at death and the awakening of our spiritual consciousness at some point in eternity future is one unbroken chain of events. Or so the argument goes. And there is Scripture that appears to support it.

Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes that 9:10, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

The Psalmist wrote: “For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?” (Psalms 6:5)

Even in context, these verses tend to argue in favor of the idea of ‘soul sleep’ — that once we die, we stay dead until our resurrection at the last day.

The Bible is a record of unfolding revelation — the prophets didn’t know everything — they knew only what God revealed to them. Much of Old Testament prophecy made little sense to the prophet himself.

The prophet Daniel was given the outline of Israel’s entire future history, condensed into a period of only 490 years — the prophecy of the ’70 Weeks’.

By Daniel’s reckoning, then, Daniel’s 70th week, the time we call the Tribulation Period, should have been concluded seven years after Jesus was crucified. But the mystery of the Church wasn’t revealed to Daniel — he talks all the way around it, but he himself never sees it.

I once heard it explained using the analogy of a man on a mountaintop peering at another distant mountaintop, but unable to see the valley between.

Jesus Christ unlocked many mysteries for the Church, not the least of which was what happens when we die. Until Jesus defeated death at His resurrection, the general understanding was that man dies, and then awaits the resurrection of the dead.

The Book of Job, chronologically the oldest book in the Bible, spoke confidently of the resurrection of the dead even before the time of Abraham, saying,

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:25-27)

But Jesus gave us additional revelation, a new ‘mystery’ for the Church, telling us exactly what happens when we die. There is no ‘soul sleep’ as the OT prophets supposed.

Jesus taught specifically and incontrovertibly that, when the moment of death comes, our conscious spirit lives on, AWAITING the resurrection of the dead, which is when our spirit is united with our new and improved physical bodies.

But we aren’t ‘sleeping’ while we wait. When Jesus taught, He often used parables to make His point. And He always prefaced it by telling His audience it was a parable; “learn the parable of the fig tree”; “learn the parable of the sower and the seed” and so on.

Other times, Jesus taught directly from Divine knowledge, revealing previously unknown truths about death, heaven and hell from His perspective as the Creator.

On one occasion, Jesus was teaching as God, rebuking the Pharisees, saying, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” (Luke 16:16)

Then He said, “There WAS a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. . .”

So, we have two specific, living individuals in this story, a rich man, and a beggar named Lazarus.

“And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried.”

Lazarus died, but that wasn’t the end of it. He was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The place called Abraham’s bosom was the waiting place of the righteous dead.

They couldn’t enter heaven, since the blood of animal sacrifices couldn’t completely wash away the stain of sin. At His Death, Jesus ‘descended into hell’ — Abraham’s Bosom — to free the righteous dead and take them to heaven.

This is basic Christian Bible doctrine — but it would be meaningless if Lazarus, Abraham, Moses, etc. remain unconscious in the grave.

Moreover, we have the testimony of the Creator Himself. Why tell the story if the story wasn’t true? It wasn’t a parable used to teach a lesson. The story WAS the lesson.

The rich man also died and was buried, but that isn’t the end of his story, either. The OTHER side of Abraham’s bosom was the waiting place for the unrighteous dead, what Jesus called ‘hell’.

“And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

Note that the rich man isn’t sleeping until Judgment Day, he is in hell, and “in torments.”

How do we know this isn’t referring to some period after the resurrection of the unrighteous dead before they stand before the Great White Throne?

Because, Scripture says, hell (and its contents) are then thrown into the ‘Lake of Fire’ [Revelation 20:14].

If there was nobody in hell, because they were all asleep until the resurrection, this would be something of a pointless exercise.

Moreover, Scripture speaks of where the beast and false prophet “are” (present tense) [Revelation 20:10] in the context of the Great White Throne Judgment, which takes place a thousand years AFTER they died. Tenses, whether past, present or future, are references to time.

Jesus Himself explained how hell was divided up until the time He conquered death and hell at the Cross;

“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, BETWEEN US AND YOU THERE IS A GREAT GULF FIXED: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (read Luke 16:19-31)

After Jesus claimed the inhabitants of Abraham’s Bosom, hell was given completely over to the unrighteous dead awaiting judgment.

So it is clear that the dead do not sleep until judgment day. The moment of physical death is the moment of spiritual awakening.

One is conscious of either being in the presence of the Lord, or one is conscious of the torments of hell. In either case, our spiritual consciousness, according to the Personal testimony of the Creator, remains unbroken.

This was, for most of human history, an unrevealed ‘mystery’ of God, until God chose to reveal it through Jesus Christ. Since then it has remained a central doctrine of Christianity — at death, one faces either heaven or hell.

At the Cross, Jesus told the repentant thief, “Verily I say unto thee, TODAY shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Time is of no effect in eternity, but the Bible outlines history in chronological order, binding itself to time in order for it to be understandable to those of us who know no other existence outside of time.

Hence, those in Abraham’s Bosom had to wait (time) for Jesus to redeem them, although they themselves were already in eternity. Those in hell have to wait (time) until the Great White Throne Judgment.

The Great White Throne Judgment and the resurrection of the unrighteous dead takes place one thousand years (time) AFTER the defeat and deaths of the antichrist and false prophet, who the Lord says already ARE (time) in the Lake of Fire BEFORE (time) Satan is cast there.

Our spirits exist and have substance, and they are not only conscious after death, they are completely self-aware.

The rich man of Luke 16 remembered he had five brothers. He begged Abraham to send Lazarus to warn them ‘lest they also come into this place of torment.’

This story took place BEFORE (time again) Jesus had gone to the Cross.

At this moment, B. Y. is either in the presence of Jesus, or he is awaiting judgment in hell. My prayer is that B. Y. trusted Jesus and that one day I will see the man behind the bottle as Jesus saw him; imperfect, incorrigible, but by God’s grace, forgiven and therefore greatly loved of the Father.

Death is not the end of our existence, it isn’t even the end of our consciousness. But it is the end of our opportunity to choose to accept or reject the free gift of salvation procured for us by our Savior.

It is our duty to remember the rich man, and his plea for his five brothers. There is nothing we can do for them, but every day, we meet someone that still has a chance to make that choice. All of us know a B. Y. — and at any moment, our mortal enemy, death, could come calling for him. Then it is too late.

It places upon us, who know the truth, an awesome responsibility:

“When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.” (Ezekiel 33:8)