The Burden of Jerusalem

The Burden of Jerusalem
Vol: 58 Issue: 31 Monday, July 31, 2006

“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)

For most of Israel’s existence, it seemed unlikely that ‘all the people of the earth’ would gather against it over the issue of Jerusalem. Oh, it is clear enough that antisemitism is alive and well on Planet Earth and that the one universal constant in human history is hatred of the Jews for the offense of BEING Jews.

It is even clear why. God said that is how it would be, as part of His overall plan for Israel’s national redemption on the last day.

“Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;” (Jeremiah 25:18)

Israel’s history throughout the Church Age until the final generation was predicted in a single sentence by the prophet Jeremiah.

“I will persecute them with the sword, with the famine, and with the pestilence, and will deliver them to be removed to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach, among all the nations whither I have driven them:” (25:18)

But Isaiah prophesied that, in the last days, “I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth; Even every one that is called by My Name: for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:5-7)

Israel is universally hated, not for anything the Jews have actually done to anybody, but for whom they claim to be; “God’s Chosen People.”

Even those who don’t believe in God hate the Jews for their claimed ‘special relationship’ but nobody hates them more than those who claim to the title of ‘Christian’.

It is no wonder that Jews fear and distrust Christians. For two thousand years, they were persecuted and executed under the shadow of the Cross. Throughout the Middle Ages, they were persecuted as ‘Christ-killers’. The Nazis claimed the Holocaust as a holy Christian mission to rid the world of Jews.

Any other ethnic group, whether Arab, European, African, Indian, etc., can shed their ethnic identity.

But Jews can’t. And if they could, the rest of the world won’t let them. Jews have been born, lived and died in every country on earth, but their country of birth was never more than a temporary ‘host’ country.

The first country on the face of the earth to extend full citizenship rights to Jews was the United States of America. In every other country where Jews ever lived, they were merely ‘German Jews’ or ‘Iraqi Jews’ or ‘British Jews’; subject to periodic pogroms, deportations or forced conversions.

But those who revile the Jews for claiming the title of ‘God’s Chosen People’ don’t understand what God chose the Jews FOR.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25)

The Apostle Paul makes it clear that God chose to impose spiritual blindness on Israel for the sake of the Gentiles. Consider this. Had the Jews accepted Christ at His First Advent, then the Church would never have existed.

As already noted, people who deny Christ will justify their antisemitism using the same libel.

Why do I say it is a ‘libel’ — a historical untruth? After all, when Pilate washed his hands of responsibility for the execution of Jesus, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person: see ye to it,” the Jewish mob chanted in reply, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” (Mathew 27:24-25)

Jesus was tried and convicted by the Jewish Supreme Court, the Sanhedrin, in an illegal trial in which no fewer than 13 Jewish laws were broken. Since the Jews, being an occupied province of Rome, were not sovereign, their courts could not order an execution. Which is why they took it to Pilate in the first place.

So, if the Jews themselves, following an illegal trial, had Jesus murdered at the hands of an unwilling occupation authority who would have preferred to have released Him, why is it a ‘libel’ to call Jews ‘Christ-killers?’

Jesus told His disciples, “Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10:17-18) No man COULD have taken Jesus’ life. Not Pilate, not the Jews, not Satan or his legions.

In the Temptation in the Wilderness, Satan quoted Psalms 91:11-12, which says, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

If Jesus alone had the power lay down His life, and that no man could ‘take’ it, then the crime cannot be laid to any human being’s charge. Indeed, at the Cross, Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

If Jesus pronounced their forgiveness at the Cross for participating in a pre-ordained and necessary sacrifice in which Jesus VOLUNTARILY laid down His life as a propitiation for all sin, how then, can the modern Jews be responsible for the sins of their fathers?

Especially when the One against Whom they sinned had already forgiven them at the Cross for their participation?

In John 16:1-2, Jesus tells His disciples (all Jews of Israel), “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.”

What an incredible prophecy! Not only were the Jews put out of the synagogues at some point in history in virtually every country they had adopted, the persecution of the Jews was always for the specific crime of being the ‘killers of Christ’.

History is filled with stories of pogroms, confiscations, expulsions, attempted genocide and persecutions against Jews, all in the Name of Christ. In every case, it was presented as a case of ‘doing God a service’ by avenging Christ’s murder.

To the world, the existence of Israel is a thorn in its collective side. Because Israel is a thorn in the side of the god of this world. He has thrown everything he could at the Jew for two thousand years, trying to wipe him from the face of the earth and break God’s prophetic promise of Israel’s national redemption in the last days.

The survival of the Jew, and the restoration of Israel to the land is proof positive that God remains on the Throne, that His Word will NOT return to Him void, and that all the chaos and terror of the world notwithstanding, all continues to go according to His plan.

And, that these ARE the last days.

“But these things have I told you, that WHEN THE TIME SHALL COME, ye may remember that I told you of them.” (John 16:4)

Assessment:

The global outrage being turned on Israel for the weekend airstrike against Qana amply demonstrates the depth and breadth of global antisemistism. Consider the known facts:

Israel has video of Hezbollah terrorists firing rockets from Qana, near the building that they struck. Before they struck Qana, they dropped warning leaflets to the civilian population.

The building itself did not collapse until some eight hours after Israel’s initial strike. And all the victims were found underneath the collapsed building. The victims were all women and children.

No men of fighting age were killed. More than 1600 rockets were fired into Israel by Hezbollah in the last three weeks, and Sunday’s barrage was the most intense Israel has been subjected to so far.

And the most salient fact of all:

Israel is responding to an unprovoked attack in which its territory was invaded, its citizens killed and two of its soldiers kidnapped as hostages in an act the United Nations international conventions define as a war crime.

The world’s reaction? Lebanon’s Prime Minister publicly thanked Hezbollah for its war on Israel. The United Nations condemned Israel, despite the obvious fact that Hezbollah pointed Israeli warplanes like a gun at a building it had crammed with women and children.

SOMETHING caused the building to fall on those people eight hours after Israel struck it. And something or someone kept those in the basement from fleeing until it collapsed on them. Nobody except Israel has even considered the only viable explanation that fits the known facts.

That Hezbollah murdered those women and children in order to pressure Israel into a ceasefire.

Such is the world’s hatred of Israel that Hezbollah gets a complete pass, whereas Israel is universally blamed as if it deliberatedly targeted civilians. While Hezbollah continues to target ONLY civilians. What global animosity exists for Hezbollah is reserved for the non-Jewish blood on their hands.

The US justifies its position against Hezbollah by pointing out that it has more American blood on its hands than any other terror group except al-Qaeda. Israeli blood shed by Hezbollah, in American eyes, isn’t even adequate justification for ISRAELI to attack Hezbollah.

Fatah’s hands are dripping with Jewish blood. Fatah was founded by Yasser Arafat. But Fatah and its leader, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, is completely supported by Washington.

Jesus forgave the Jews for their participation in His Death, because ‘they knew not what’ they were doing.

Had Jesus not been handed over to the Romans for crucifixion by the Jews, then His blood would not have been shed for the sins of all mankind. “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” (John 1:11)

Think about those who participated in His Death. The Jews who condemned Him. The soldiers Who scourged Him. The crowds who reviled and spit on Him. The entire plan was ordained before the world began, but the plan required the participation of human beings.

Consequently, as He hung on the Cross, He looked over the crowd of people who HAD to be there, and He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

God chose them to do His dirty work. Then He forgave them for it. But the world never did.

Zechariah’s incredible prophecy, made over 2,500 years ago, is that all the peoples of the world will one day gather against her over the issue of ownership of Jerusalem.

Since Jerusalem is a Jewish city, with a Jewish name, founded by the Jewish King David, prophesying that its ownership would even be in question defies logical explanation, let alone that the whole world would gather together to support the other side’s claim.

There is a legendary story told of Frederick the Great, who, in a crisis of faith, cried out for someone to provide him with concrete evidence of the existence of God.

One of his counsellors reportedly replied;”Have you considered the Jew, your Majesty?”

The Bible says that God Himself will redeem the Jewish people. “And so ALL Israel shall be saved,” writes the Apostle Paul. (Romans 11:26)

I confess I don’t know how He will accomplish it, or exactly what ‘ALL Israel’ entails, but the promise is that it will be accomplished ‘after the fullness of the Gentiles be come in’ (Romans 11:25).

Since I expect to be Raptured after the full complement of the Gentiles who will come to Christ have come to Christ, it doesn’t really make much difference to me. I just know I have God’s Word on it.

That’s good enough for me.

Until then, I will continue to pray for Israel and her people that God will grant them victory over their enemies. Until He comes.

Shalu Shlom Yerushalayim

Shalu Shlom Yerushalayim
Vol: 58 Issue: 29 Saturday, July 29, 2006

One of our members forwarded an email along that they received from Israel, with a very interesting twist to it. First, I will share the contents of the email, and then we’ll discuss it.

(Begin email report) Israel lost quite a number of dead and wounded over the last several days, and this week Colonel Kline was one of those who died in the midst of battle. What was not widely reported in the media is “how he died, and what happened as a result of his death.”

Klein had taken a unit of 20 Israeli soldiers into the midst of one of Lebanon’s border cities where the fighting was fierce. He led his men into a courtyard that was walled up around believing it provide a place of cover and rest from enemy fire.

Suddenly, someone tossed a hand grenade out of one of the windows above them, and as it hit the ground, Klein threw his body over the hand grenade and cried out shouting: “Schema Yisrael Adoni Elohinu, Adonai Ekhad.” Hear O Israel, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One!

As he shouted the last words he would ever speak in this holiest of prayers He honored his G-d. The grenade blew up killing him but sparing all of his soldiers from death. Some were slightly injured from shrapnel but none had life threatening wounds because of Colonel Klein’s actions.

It seems afterward some of the soldiers saw an angel standing over the lifeless body of the Colonel. Some of the wounded were taken to a hospital and wanted to speak about this but they were told to say nothing. However, some of them could not keep silent. Who could keep silent after seeing and angel?

The word got out through some of their parents. The mainstream media here has maintained silence, and the army has ordered them not to speak about their experience, but our sources are bringing us this awesome news! We are seeking to contact and go meet some of these wounded men….Pray for the L-rd to open a door to speak with those who have seen one of G-d’s messengers and can now be a witness that He is real. He is alive; He is the living G-d!

Colonel Klein called upon the living G-d and gave Him glory seconds before He died saving his comrades. G-d showed up immediately and sent one of His messengers to reveal that He was there with them, and now Colonel Kline is with their G-d! (end of email report)

Assessment:

In the early 1990’s I was blessed to make the acquaintance of Gershon Saloman, the head of Israel’s Temple Mount Faithful while I was working with the This Week in Bible Prophecy television program.

When we met for the first time, it was for an interview for the program. We soon became fast friends. Gershon stayed at our home when he was in Canada, and when I was in Jerusalem, he returned the favor.

I was invited to celebrate Shabbot (the Sabbath) with him and his family in his home. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I say all that to preface the fact that the story Gershon told me was friend-to-friend, and not a canned fund-raising speech he was using to raise money for the TMF.

When I met Gershon, he walked with a cane, and from the way his back was bowed, I assumed he was born with a spinal defect, like spina bifida or something similar.

At his home in Jerusalem, after our Shabbot dinner, he told me the story of what happened.

Gershon is a tenth generation ‘sabra’ (native born Jerusalemite) who fought in every one of Israel’s wars including the 1948 War of Independence. His wife stood on the balcony of their home and pointed to a field behind their house.

During the Six Days’ War, “The Jordanians were right there,” she pointed. “Gershon’s unit was right over there. We could see the fighting from here.”

In 1958, during a battle in the Golan Heights, Gershon was wounded when an Israeli tank accidentally ran over him. The tank caught the collar of his shirt and FOLDED HIM OVER BACKWARDS, snapping his spine.

The Syrians overran his position and began shooting the wounded Israeli soldiers. As they were about to shoot him, Gershon told me, they suddenly dropped their weapons and ran away.

Later, he said, these Syrians soldiers reported to UN officers that they had seen ‘thousands of angels’ around the crippled IDF officer and had, therefore, fled. He showed me documentary evidence from the UN to prove it.

As another interesting side note, despite his injuries, Gershon fought in both the Six Days’ War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He was among the Israeli paratroopers who captured the Temple Mount from Jordan in 1967.

Gershon swelled with pride when he recounted being among the first Jews to set foot on Temple Mount in nearly two thousand years.

Now we return to the story at hand — angels on the Israeli battlefield. Gershon’s story of angelic warriors is not the first I’d heard — it was merely the first time I’d heard the story first-hand from an eyewitness.

Soldiers in all of Israel’s wars have reported seeing angels on the battlefield. During the Yom Kippur War, a lone Israeli soldier in the Sinai led a captured Egyptian column back to Israeli lines.

When the Egyptian officer was asked why he surrendered an entire tank column to a single Israeli soldier, the Egyptian officer replied, “One soldier? There were thousands of them.”

“The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.” (Psalms 68:7)

The officer said the rest of the ‘soldiers’ had melted away as they approached the Israeli lines. The Israeli soldier reported that he was alone when the Egyptian commander surrendered to him. He didn’t see the army of angelic warriors. The Egyptians did.

I read this account some years ago in a secular book about Israel’s wars written by an Israeli military historian.

The Bible identifies the archangel Michael as Israel’s guardian angel. (Daniel 10:13, 31) The prophet Zechariah predicted that in the last days, God would send His angels to fight alongside Israel.

“In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.” (Zechariah 12:8)

In its existence, Israel has fought back invaders in five major wars aimed at its annihilation, against impossible odds exceeding 650 to 1 in some cases. Israel’s victory in the War of Independence was nothing short of miraculous, as were her victories in 1967 and 1973 against the combined might of the Soviet-backed Arab Legions.

Given her precarious geography, with enemies on three sides and her back to the sea, the Arab armies should have cut through her like a hot knife through butter, but amazingly, each victory left Israel in possession of more land than she had when attacked. And in every war, there are reports from BOTH sides of angelic intervention on Israel’s behalf.

Israel’s warrior angels make appearances during the Exodus, during most of Israel’s early battles, and are promised as Israel’s protectors in the last days.

There are too many independent accounts to dismiss reports of angelic warriors as battle fatigue, particularly when one considers that they’ve been seen by BOTH sides.

I don’t want to start an angel-worship cult. Angels are not gods, or deserving of worship. They are created beings who serve as messengers of God. But they are real. They are active in the defense of Israel. And that is why Israel will win.

And the fact that we are talking about them is more evidence that these are indeed the very last of the last days before the return of Christ.

Shalu Shlom Yerushalayim! Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! Until He comes.

Maybe today?

Heaven From the Cesspool

Heaven From the Cesspool
Vol: 58 Issue: 28 Friday, July 28, 2006

Heaven From the Cesspool

It s been observed that, Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die . It makes you wonder why is that? Since the worst thing anybody can do to another human being is kill them and the most desirable outcome for any Christian is to go home to glory. . . what s up with that, anyway?

The Bible describes heaven as a place where the streets are made from gold, and where the pure river of the water of Life proceeds out from the throne of God and of the Lamb where there shall be no night, since God Himself with illuminate it and so on.

What kind of mental image does this give you?

To me, it sounds pretty neat, but . . . somehow, not.

Please don t run screaming from the room screaming blasphemy just yet I m not finished. Give me a few more lines.

I recall sitting between a couple of sand dunes, surveying the wind-swept beach on one of North Carolina s Outer Banks, watching as the breakers crashed into the pilings on the nearby pier. The sun was shining, the breeze was warm; it was altogether an idyllic scene.

The beauty was breathtaking. Alone with the Lord, I mused about what heaven must REALLY be like, if this wasn t it. Indeed, as I pointed out earlier, John s description of heaven was, um, nice, but where I was sitting was pretty nice, too. There were no rivers of living water, but I know that I am saved and have eternal life already.

The sand isn’t made of gold, but what value will gold have in eternity, anyway? It will pave the streets, as common as the sand. I like the sand.

And I LIKE the night; I ve sat in that exact same spot at night, and when the breeze is warm and the stars are out, with the moon reflecting off the ocean it is no less idyllic than it is during the day.

I enquired of the Lord, and I began to get a bit of the Big Picture, as seen from outside of space and time. (No, I wasn t smoking anything and I didn t start to hear voices).

Instead, I thought about what the Bible said about heaven, and more to the point, what the Bible says about our Big Blue Marble.

The Bible describes the fall of Lucifer, his sin, and his ejection from heaven, together with the third of the angels who rebelled with him. When they were cast from heaven, where did they go?

The Book of Job says: And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. (Job 1:7, 2:2)

It has been my experience in studying God s Word that when He causes something to be repeated, as in this case, it is worth giving it an extra look.

When Satan and his crew cast from heaven, they were cast to the earth, what the theologians call the cosmos diabolicus or literally, a world of evil. To the angels, it was the worst place they could imagine — a place of involuntary and horrific exile.

Planet Earth is the one place in the universe where sin can exist without throwing the entire universe out of balance, thanks to the fact it has an environment that contains it.

Our environment, which sustains us, also contains us and keeps us from doing to the universe what we have already done to our planet.

Indeed, we managed to get to the outer fringes of our planet and what did we do? Filled it with orbiting space junk, some of which threatens OTHER orbiting space junk, such as the international space station.

Meanwhile, back on earth . . . when the fallen angels were cast to earth, it was an astonishing drop. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! (Isaiah 14:12)

To the angels, the beautiful seaside scene I described earlier is a cesspool of sin, a place of punishment to the angels who rebelled, a place so horrible, that seen from the heavenly perspective, merely being stuck here was enough to turn Lucifer the Archangel into Satan the Destroyer.

Imagine our planet from God s perspective. Everything is stained by sin. The beautiful beach scene? Stained by sin. The ground we walk on? Stained by sin.

I tried to imagine that stain for what it is, and of course, I cannot. I can only defer to the Bible s description of sin. It is so filthy, so repugnant, so disgusting, that God can t bear to view it.

When God created Adam, He created a special place for him. The Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve fell, they were first cast OUT of the Garden, and into the cesspool where sin was allowed to operate freely.

Jerusalem sits in the middle of the cesspool. In the center of Jerusalem was the Temple, a place kept scrubbed of the taint of sin by the Levitical priesthood, and the Holy of Holies, a place scrubbed even more carefully.

The only place where God would commune with sinful man on this sin-stained planet was that tiny place where the muck of sin was scrubbed away as much as possible.

Until even that place became so buried in the muck and mire of sin that, after four hundred years of silence, He decided to Personally scrub it –and us — clean of it, once and for all.

Scripture says the angels were astonished that the Lord of Glory would assume human form, step out of sinless and perfect eternity, and wallow in the mire of sin with sinful humanity. Every step for Him must have been an agony, like walking knee-deep in sewage.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Hebrews 2:9)

It is a measure of how disgusting sin is to God. The fact it was the place God cast the rebellious angels is revealing. To the angels, our beautiful planet earth is a leper colony. We mortal humans are little more than bugs, willingly wallowing in the yuck of sin, yea, REVELING in it.

Yet the Scripture says that the angels are fascinated by us, and by our plight, and astonished by our unwillingness to climb out of the muck. It amazes them that men love the world, since they see it for what it is, and have some basis for comparison between it and the things of the spirit.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with SO GREAT A CLOUD OF WITNESSES, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us . . . (Hebrews 12:1)

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and TO ANGELS, and to men. (1 Corinthians 4:9)

Scripture tells us that; For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

We cannot imagine heaven, we can only compare it to earth and all its beauty and wonderment, and realize that the earth is the universe s garbage dump. Heaven is like the Bible describes it; but it is much more.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

What IS death, that we fear it? In a word, separation. Death separates us from our loved ones. Death takes our loved ones from us, separating us from them until eternity.

Sin is a form of death. It separated the fallen angels from fellowship with God. It separates the unsaved from God. Revelation 20:14 speaks of the Great White Throne Judgment in which unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire as the second death — a second and permanent separation.

Sin separates us from God, our sin nature blinds us to that fact and so we love the world, and thereby astonish the angels. Picture the nastiest, gooeyest, smelliest substance you can think of, and imagine being in it up to your neck. From the angelic perspective, that s where we are, and most of us are loving it, until we get saved.

Jesus said, Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10) The angels know what that sinner has just escaped from.

Jesus also describes what we become in eternity in Luke 20:36, Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.

Paul tells us that we will receive new, immortal bodies. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. (1 Corinthians 15:49-50)

What is heaven like? I don t know.

But I know what a beautiful, sunny day, a warm ocean breeze and the sights and sounds of the waves as they gently break on the shore is like.

And compared to heaven, it s a cesspool.

To the angels, it is a place of exile, a leper colony, a place where the fallen angels were sent to await their fate at the Great White Throne. Our ‘beautiful’ planet is the angelic ‘hell’ to which they were cast to await sentencing to the Lake of Fire.

But we will be ‘equal to the angels’ says the Lord, in our immortal, sin-free bodies, and equal to the angels in understanding just HOW evil and repugnant this place really is, from the perspective of the spirit.

Why is it, then, that everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die?

Because if we knew what awaits us there, we d all jump off a cliff tomorrow.

I am still recovering from my recent injuries and the pain medication makes it pretty hard for me to make any sense. So please forgive another republication of an old column. This one is one of my favorites. I hope to be back to full mental and physical capacity by Monday. In the meantime, I am going to follow the doctor’s advice and stay in bed for a couple of days and let my ribs heal.

In addition, I’ve gotten a number of emails from folks suggesting that I sue the campsite for damages. After much prayer and a little time to consider my options, I have decided against it. I’ve posted my reasoning in the Member’s forum so we are all on the same page.

The Deadliest Sin

The Deadliest Sin
Vol: 58 Issue: 26 Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In the Book of Proverbs, God lays out a list before us of what are often called the “Seven Deadly Sins.” They earned that nickname, not because those sins will cause a believer to lose his salvation, but because they are the most destructive sins to a believer’s spiritual progress before the Lord.

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:17-19)

We’ll go through them in depth as we go on. But first, note that God HATES the first six on the list. Note even more carefully His opinion of the seventh — it is an ABOMINATION to Him.

The first deadly sin on the list is pride. Although it doesn’t make the ‘abomination’ category, it is the first step on the road that leads there.

Pride is the most insidious sin, since it might easily be termed the ‘silent’ sin. Its very nature prevents us from either recognizing it in ourselves or admitting to it when it is finally recognized (usually by somebody else.)

God hates pride. ‘Pride’ is arguably the seminal sin of the universe out of which all other sin arises. The first recorded sin in the history of the universe was not the fall of man, but the fall of Lucifer.

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)

What follows is Satan’s indictment, often called the five ‘I wills’ — each of which are the byproduct of Lucifer’s pride.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (14:13)

Some preachers have made the case that sin can be defined through this passage. “I will” — rather than “God’s will.” It’s pithy and elliptical — and even accurate, up to a point — but it doesn’t quite hit the bullseye. Close, but not exact.

If one were seeking to locate the root and branch of sin, “I will” is a lesser included offense, so to speak, but not the original sin. “I will” is merely the outward expression of the original sin of pride.

If you take God’s list in order, “pride” is first because without it, the rest of them haven’t a leg to stand on.

The secular dictionary defines ‘pride’ thusly: “A sense of one’s own proper dignity or value; self-respect.”

Pride breeds lies. Why do people lie? Generally speaking, it is to conceal some secret that would make them look bad. There is a standing joke in prison that the one thing all inmates have in common is that they are innocent.

Even after having served their time, few convicts own up to the crimes for which they were convicted, even though vindication wouldn’t give them back their time served. It is gone forever, so why bother continuing to deny it? Pride.

“Hands that shed innocent blood” immediately brings abortion to the forefront of my mind. Why are abortion records kept secret? After the abortion is accomplished, the ‘problem’ is ‘solved’. It isn’t illegal to have an abortion, so there is no legal jeopardy attached to having had one. The records are sealed to protect the privacy (and pride) of the perpetrator.

And while there are many ‘reasons’ for wanting to get an abortion, when they are distilled down to their essence, one will find pride in there somewhere. The pro-life slogan, “It’s MY body” is an expression of pride. The abortion destroys the baby’s body, not the mothers.

“A woman’s right to choose” is another. A pregnant woman already made her choice when she did the deed that produced the pregnancy. Claiming a special ‘right’ to a SECOND choice to correct the first wrong choice — as an expression of the uniqueness of womanhood, is rooted in pride.

Men are expressly forbidden the same ‘right’ to correct a wrong choice. And not only is their sin NOT concealed, it is a matter of public record, accessible by anybody searching through court-ordered child support records.

The identities of those who actually shed innocent blood are protected, to protect their pride. Those just as involved in the creation of the child, but who have no say in the matter of abortion, are often held up to public ridicule. (Or even imprisonment)

The ‘innocent blood’ shed in the process is secondary to protecting the reputation of those who shed it. I would venture to bet that there would be lots fewer abortions if there were a legal requirement to post the particulars of an abortion in a local paper, the way the law requires public notification of a death, an estate, or a bankruptcy.

A heart devising ‘wicked imaginations’ and feet that are ‘swift to be running in mischief’ would be less divisive and less swift if the particulars were certain to be published on the front page of the newspaper, even when no crime has been committed.

We’ve discussed pride’s role in bearing false witness, and now we come to that final pride-sponsored abomination, “he that soweth discord among brethren.”

Assessment:

Ever find yourself in a discussion over doctrine that turns nasty? Where what ostensibly began as an effort to ‘straighten out’ someone else’s doctrinal error degenerates into an argument over whose understanding of doctrine is the correct one?

You can tell when it has made that shift from discussion to debate to argument, even if you aren’t part of it. It becomes less about the doctrine in question and more about who is right.

Even after both sides have agreed to disagree, the debate lingers as each side waits for an advantage, some unrelated event or circumstance that will re-open the debate and give one side or the other a hope for the opportunity to say, “Aha! Told ya!”

Pride, by its insidious nature, blinds us to the fact (obvious to most observers) that the goal of the debate has morphed. It’s no longer about the doctrine. It’s about being right.

The debate about the timing of the Rapture is a perfect example. It is a given that, when two genuinely saved, born-again Christians start debating the timing of the Rapture, both sides sincerely believe that they are right. Why else would they want to argue about it?

What neither side can articulate very effectively is what difference the timing of the Rapture makes to their own salvation. Or what difference it makes to the mission of leading souls to Christ.

A pre-trib Rapturist is no more saved than a post-Trib Rapturist. One is saved by grace through faith in Christ, not by faith in Christ’s appointment calendar. An understanding of the timing of the Rapture is necessary to rightly dividing the Word insofar as understanding the Bible’s prophetic outline.

But we aren’t saved by our understanding of the Bible’s prophetic outline. It isn’t when He comes that saves us, it is faith in the One Who is coming.

But spend a little time reading through some of the debates and it is hard to find much about Christ in them. It’s about being right. Pride. Bragging rights.

Proverbs says that ‘pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (16:18)

In our forums, debates about the timing of the Rapture has driven many members right out of our fellowship. Those who remain are vindicated — some even rejoice at having driven such a one away.

Nobody has learned anything from the exchange except which party is the better debater. Each side remains convinced of their own position, because the goal is to defend their own view, not consider the merits of the other side.

And pride won’t allow us to see that the damage being caused in the process far outweighs any eternal value that might be gleaned from winning over a post-tribber to the pre-trib side.

Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Nowhere does the timing of the Rapture play a role. Nothing of eternal value is obtained by driving away a brother or sister from fellowship over an issue that can never be proved until after the fact.

It serves only to spread unnecessary discord among brethren, which the Scriptures identify as an ‘abomination before the Lord’.

The discussion at hand in today’s briefing isn’t the timing of the Rapture — it is the insidious nature of the sin of pride. It sneaks up on us, unawares. By the time we recognize the role it plays, (if ever) it is too late to undo the damage its caused.

It shatters relationships, spreads discord among brethren, damages the shared mission of all Christians — to demonstrate the truth that, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

There are doctrinal differences between Christians because that is the way God has ordained it to be.

In the Book of Genesis, we read of Nimrod’s efforts to rally the whole world to his cause, to build a tower that would thwart God’s effort at judgment in the event of another flood.

To prevent the whole world from falling under the sway of one man’s heresy, God confused the languages and divided the world into nations, confusing their languages so that they would be able to form their own opinions about God’s will for their lives without the influence of a single, powerful human leader.

Within the Church, there are doctrinal differences between denominations that serve the same purpose. Interestingly, it is only AFTER those doctrinal divisions are ‘taken out of the way’ at the Rapture that the antichrist is free to advance his own personal doctrine, whereby he seizes control of the global religion and declares himself to be God.

His plan could never work during the Church Age. Christians can’t even agree among themselves about the details of the Eternal God, despite the fact they were revealed by God Himself, let alone buy into the unified doctrine of antichrist.

There is but one universal Christian doctrine, summed up in Acts 4:12:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

The Apostle Paul addressed the doctrinal divisions that had already stirred up the pride of the early Church, as some Christians declared themselves followers of Peter, and others, followers of Paul.

“Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” (Romans 14:1)

There is probably no better example of a ‘doubtful disputation’ than the timing of the Rapture.

As Paul noted in his letter to the Corinthians; “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” We teach what we believe, but nobody should be forced to agree with every detail in order to keep fellowship. We are all one in Christ as sinners saved by grace.

I am convinced of a pre-trib Rapture, but if somebody wants to reject that in favor of another view, his eternity is not in jeopardy. Just his understanding.

As to endless debate about peripheral details not related to salvation, Paul says, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1st Corinthians 14:36,38)

In addressing the minor doctrinal divisions of his day, Paul writes, “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded IN HIS OWN mind.” (Romans 14:5)

The operative phrase here is for each man to be fully persuaded of his own doctrine in his OWN mind. If someone has a question, I will spend all the time necessary to answer it.

But debating the answer is both a waste of time and an excercise in pride. I can’t fully persuade somebody else’s mind. That is God’s job. At best, I can only sow the seed and wait for the Holy Spirit to water it.

I have all I can handle in just swallowing my pride and let Him do His job. I’ve already done mine.

Hell and A Merciful God

Hell and A Merciful God
Vol: 58 Issue: 25 Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The question has been asked so many times that has morphed from a question into a challenge; “How can a merciful and loving God condemn people to eternal torments in hell?”

The question is not just posed by atheists and skeptics, but also by some sincere, but woefully uneducated Christians. The argument has some merit on the surface. God is love. All men are created with a sin nature.

Since, by definition and design, all men are sinners and our Creator God is love, it logically follows that a loving God who created sinners would be unjust in condemning them to hell for being what they are.

God is the Righteous Judge. If He is so righteous, it seems logical that He would take into account the mitigating circumstances.

Especially since the chief mitigation is the fact it was the Righteous Judge that created the unrighteous sinner and that unrighteousness is the default condition of man. That cannot be stressed strongly enough.

The default condition of mankind is that of utter depravity. People are not born good and then learn bad things. It is precisely the opposite.

There is a common canard in our society that dictates that racism, for example, is learned behavior. A ‘learned behavior’ is something that has been taught to someone, or a way of thinking that they did not come up with themselves.

The prevailing worldview is that children who grow up to be racists are taught to be racist as a child. In this view, unless a child is taught to be racist, he will grow up to be ‘color-blind’ so to speak.

An article posted by a Dr. Carl Bell, MD on the American Psychiatric Association’s website attempted to argue against racism as a ‘mental illness’, claiming;

“As I stated in the editorial, racism “is mainly a product of learned behavior,” and “a majority of explicitly racist persons do not have any psychopathology.”

I don’t know if racism is a mental illness, but I know that racism is not something that children are taught. It is something that they must be ‘untaught’.

Children are racist by nature. Studies conducted that put one black pre-schooler into a classroom full of white pre-schoolers showed the white pre-schoolers abused, ostracized and teased the black kid corporately, that is to say, they did so as a group.

Reversing the situation produced the same results; the black kids abused, ostracized and teased the white kid, again corporately. Were all these pre-schoolers taught to be racists?

Moreover, who taught them to be abusive? Who taught them the principles of boycott, or ostracization?

These are fairly advanced principles for pre-schoolers — it took Jesse Jackson a lifetime of effort to fine-tune them into the social weapons they are today. Where did these kids learn to be racist?

Any school teacher will confirm that children are not only racist, they are mean. Kids are really small terrorists without advanced weaponry or a cause. And we were all kids.

If we reach back far enough into our memories, it is fairly obvious that the cruelest people we ever met were our own classmates.

Everyone remembers that one kid who was taunted unmercifully, (maybe it was you) because of their skin color, their religion, their social status, or some other characteristic that made that kid different. (I remember a kid we all teased because he was ugly.)

I was teased unmercifully because I had no hand-to-eye coordination. When we would choose up sides to play baseball, the two team captains would choose their players until they got to me. Then they’d fight over who got ‘stuck’ with me — as if I wasn’t there.

My nicknames were alternatively, “Easy Out” and “Butterfingers” — two terms that make me cringe to this day.

Children have to be taught not to hit each other, bite each other, they have to be taught not to steal, to show respect, not to lie, etc.

Prisons are full of folks who blame their upbringing for their shortcomings. Zacharias Moussaoui’s defense for being a 9/11 plotter was, in essence, that his father was mean to him and that’s why he became a terrorist.

Dr. Carl Bell, MD, would undoubtedly agree with Jung and Freud that having bad parents as children is to blame for bad behavior in adults. Baloney.

Children needn’t be taught bad values because ‘bad’ is their default state.

Prisons, as rehabilitation centers, attempt to teach ‘good’ values — or the word ‘rehabilitation’ is meaningless.

A long example to prove a short principle; We are born sinners. Evil is our default condition. It is goodness that is the learned behavior.

To return to our original premise, if a loving God created us without a spark of goodness, then how could He then condemn us to an eternity of torment for being what He made us to be — and still call that ‘perfect justice’?

Assessment:

It is worth noting that the only inherently evil creation in the corporeal (physical) world is humanity. Animals aren’t evil by nature. They do what comes naturally.

Sin isn’t a learned behavior. It is something that must be unlearned. The degree to which a human being ‘unlearns’ selfishness, cruelty and sadism becomes the measure of his goodness. Provide the right set of circumstances, say, New Orleans after Katrina, and humanity reverts to type.

Doctors murder patients to save themselves. People with no criminal record become looters. The strong prey on the weak. Right and wrong, as social concepts, essentially evaporate.

Man was created in God’s image. He was created with the ability to discern between right and wrong, and was also created with the ability to choose which path to take.

This planet is the only place in God’s creation where evil is permitted unfettered operation. Theologians call it the ‘cosmos diabolicus’. It is enclosed by an atmosphere which keeps evil from escaping out into the universe.

When Satan came to present himself before the Lord, “the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:7)

It is Satan’s domain. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, he offered the Creator of the Universe a bargain:

“the devil taketh Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto Him, All these things will I give thee, if Thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9)

Although Jesus is the Creator (and Satan knew it) the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ was Satan’s to offer.

So, again we return the central question: “How could a loving God condemn us to eternal torment for being what He made us to be?”

A lion who hunts down and kills an injured wildebeest that can’t keep up with the herd isn’t doing evil because he selected the weakest and most vulnerable prey. That’s why he was created to do. He has no other choice.

And THAT is where God’s perfect justice comes in. We DO have a choice. We were created specifically to that single purpose. So that, when given the choice, we could then choose God.

God’s perfect justice demands that there be some provision of salvation for those who choose Him — or He could impose no penalty for those who choose to reject Him.

Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. Therefore, man has a choice between ‘good’ (God) and man’s default nature of evil (self). Jesus Christ represents God’s perfect justice.

Having defeated the sin nature by living a perfect life, He was uniquely qualified to pay the penalty perfect justice demands, because no created being could earn the currency necessary to pay the price on their own behalf.

Each of us is acutely aware of our sin nature. We spend a lifetime seeking to overcome it, and in so doing, learn that it is impossible. We then are confronted with a choice.

We can choose Heaven by humbly accepting the offer of Pardon extended to us, knowing it is not something we earned, cannot earn, and cannot buy or steal.

Or we can choose hell, the place prepared as the eternal repository for sin after this cosmos diabolicus is destroyed at the end of human history.

The earth will have served its purpose as a confinement area for sin, and having served that purpose, “shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.” (2nd Peter 3:12)

After Satan is banished to hell and sin is contained, the cosmos diabolicus gives way to “new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2nd Peter 3:13)

God doesn’t condemn us to hell. He condemns sin. But in His mercy, He provides a way for us to shed our sin nature through the regeneration of salvation.

But we are the ones who make the final choice. It is indeed perfect justice that the condemned be given the choice — while still in their sins — of where they will spend eternity.

Having expressly provided the choices to us, it would be utterly unjust of God to ignore the choice we make.

Not Our War?

Not Our War?
Vol: 58 Issue: 24 Monday, July 24, 2006

Not Our War?

As Israel continues to press deep into Lebanon in its quest to root out and destroy Hezbollah, the half-hearted calls for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ from the majority of world governments — including the Arab world — has left Kofi Annan standing virtually alone in his contention that ‘both sides are to blame’.

There are few world leaders — apart from Annan and a few other lunatics like Mahmoud Amadinejad — willing to say with a straight face that there is some moral equivalency between Hezbollah’s taking of Israeli hostages with Israel’s dropping of leaflets warning civilians to flee an impending attack against Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon.

While there are allegedly mounting civilian casualties among the Lebanese population, even the very term ‘civilian’ is a misnomer in this conflict.

To the global antisemite, any living fighter is a member of Hezbollah, but any dead one can be transformed into a ‘civilian’, since Hezbollah fighters integrate themselves into civilian neighborhoods and wear no uniforms or carry Hezbollah ID cards.

Especially when one considers that the civilian casualty figures are being supplied mainly by Hezbollah itself.

Israel has been dropping leaflets for weeks. In addition, an Israeli radio station that normally broadcasts to southern Lebanon has also been warning residents of 13 villages, for days, to flee north by Saturday afternoon. The villages form a corridor about 4 miles wide and 11 miles deep.

In any other theater of combat in any other war involving any other nation, those who refused to flee would no longer qualify as ‘civilians’.

But international hatred of all things Israeli run so deeply that the Lebanese Hezbollah supporters are ‘innocent victims’ while Israeli civilians killed by indiscriminate rocket attacks are simply “Israelis killed by Hezbollah or Hamas missiles.”

While there is a great deal of sympathy for the Lebanese population, the phrase, ‘innocent Lebanese victims’ is less a description than it is propaganda. As in the Palestinian Authority situation, Hezbollah is part of Lebanon’s freely-elected government. Those who voted for Hezbollah are hardly ‘innocent victims’ of Israeli ‘over-reaction’.

At best, they are victims of Hezbollah. At worst, they are victims of their own hatred of Israel that predicated their vote for the Hezbollah candidates in the first place.

Pat Buchanan recently penned an antisemitic screed entitled “No, This is Not Our War” in which he argued;

“On American TV, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the ruination of Lebanon is Hezbollah’s doing. But is it Hezbollah that is using U.S.-built F-16s, with precision-guided bombs and 155-mm artillery pieces to wreak death and devastation on Lebanon?”

“No, Israel is doing this, with the blessing and without a peep of protest from President Bush. And we wonder why they hate us.”

According to Buchanan, “None of this is written in defense of Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran. But none of them has attacked our country, nor has Syria.” Is he kidding?

Assessment:

Hezbollah’s history begins with the Israeli 1982 Israeli occupation of Lebanon to root out and expel Yasser Arafat and the PLO who has taken over Beirut as a base from which to attack Israel.

Hezbollah was formed by members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to combat the Israeli presence, and to assist the PLO’s efforts to destroy Israel and replace it with a Palestinian state.

Arafat and his henchman had transformed Beirut from the ‘Jewel of the Middle East’ into an apocalyptic wasteland. Its beautiful boulevards became killing fields, its hotels and tourist centers became military command posts.

By 1983, the situation had become so bad that Ronald Reagan ordered a contingent of US Marines to Beirut to protect the embassy. Hezbollah, using Iranian explosives ferried to them via Damascus, car-bombed both the Marine barracks and the US Embassy, killing 242 Marines.

In one of the greatest blunders of his presidency, President Reagan ordered the immediate withdrawal of US forces, ceding the field to Hezbollah and giving terrorists their first victory over the ‘Great Satan’ and establishing America’s reputation as a ‘paper tiger’.

(It is worth noting that, at the time, Pat Buchanan was Reagan’s Communications Director and a Reagan advisor. Just in case you are wondering who advised Reagan to cut and run)

In 1988, Hezbollah kidnapped Marine Lt. Col Rich Higgins as a hostage. Hezbollah later hanged Col Higgins, videotaping his murder and sending it along to Washington.

And in 1996, a USAF military barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia was car bombed, killing 19 US servicemen. All fingers point to Tehran as the culprit.

You’d think that an organization that killed 242 Marines in a single blow and executed a US Marine officer would also be an enemy of the United States. As would its supporters, including Iran and Syria.

In 2001, the US government enunicated the ‘Bush Doctrine’ — “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” Like Bush or hate him, the Bush Doctrine is the official and legal policy of the United States.

Hezbollah is a terrorist organization of international reach with more American blood on its hands than any other terrorist group other than that of al-Qaeda.

Hezbollah was created, financed and controlled by Iran.

Not our war? What planet does Buchanan live on?

Israel remains the world’s most enigmatic nation. Nobody can fully articulate why they hate Israel so much, they simply do. Buchanan’s screed drips of mindless antisemitism and Jewish conspiracy theory.

Consider Buchanan’s position in its context. Israel withdrew from its ‘occupation’ of Gaza. The Palestinians immediately used their newly acquired freedom to launch more than a thousand rocket attacks into Israeli civilian areas. They sneaked into Israel and kidnapped an Israeli soldier to hold for ransom.

Hezbollah sneaked into Israel and kidnapped two other Israeli soldiers to hold for ransom. In each kidnapping, the Israelis they didn’t kidnap were killed.

But Buchanan argues that it is Israel that is the aggressor and that by standing by Israel, the United States is a tool of the Israelis, who “dictate to whom we may and may not talk.”

Pat writes that he is not defending Hamas, Hezbollah or Iran. If true, then the only remaining reason for his screed is to attack Israel.

The Psalmist lamented three thousand years ago, “Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people.” (Psalms 44:14)

People like Pat Buchanan.

Note:

I’ve mentioned the non-stop onslaught from the enemy we’ve encountered since we expanded our ministry effort to include traveling the country giving the warning of the soon return of Christ.

In the latest installment of spiritual war-news, I was electrocuted over the weekend by an improperly-wired shore power box at the RV camp we are staying at, throwing me some dozen feet or so and necessitating an ambulance trip to a local hospital.

Although I suffered minor burns and some severely bruised ribs (from the impact with the ground after being thrown), I was not as seriously injured as I could have been.

The Lord protected me from serious injury or death — thanks to your prayers for our mission. God bless you for it.

Special Member’s Report – Our ‘Mission From God’

Special Member’s Report – Our ‘Mission From God’
Vol: 58 Issue: 22 Saturday, July 22, 2006

Special Member’s Report – Our ‘Mission From God’

It’s been some time since I gave everybody an overview report of where we are, what we are planning, and the future direction of your Omega Letter.

As most of you know, the Lord has been impressing me for some time with the need to get out of the office and into the churches with the message of His impending return. After my initial skepticism (as I’ve noted many times, when I hear the Lord’s Voice in my head, it sounds a lot like mine), I gave into the leading, sold our home, gave away our stuff, bought a used RV and headed out on our ‘mission from God’.

I’d like to share something of our adventures and accomplishments so far with the entire membership, so everybody is on the same page.

I’ve been trying to keep up with a daily road tour journal which we send out to subscribers that commit to help us out with the expenses and sign up for the journal. This morning, I thought I’d go through some of what I’ve been sharing via the journal with the full membership.

To being with, we adopted, as a deliberate tactic, the decision to NOT publicize our tour beyond the Omega Letter website. If this was the Lord’s idea, I reasoned, then He will make things happen. If not, then this is one way of being sure.

I don’t like to get out ahead of the Lord on such things. We put our intentions out there and waited. And waited.

I know it sounds kind of nuts to some of you. Not pushing the tour, or working the phones, or however it is that such things are planned and set up.

Mostly, I’ve been praying that God would provide the assistance that He knows will be useful to His ultimate purpose.

Since it was His idea, I figure He must have some kind of plan. Me? I am clueless.

I’d been praying for some kind of clear direction on this and waiting on the Lord’s response. His response was to send me to Chicago where He had already started handling the details for me.

Once having finished tying up the loose ends, closing up the house sale, and disposing of the extraneous baggage, we set back out on our quest on Tuesday, July 19.

The following day was Gayle’s birthday. I had planned to squire her about the City of Big Shoulders, wine and dine her, and make her birthday as special as possible.

But as we were making camp in Sturgis the day before, she slipped from the top step of the RV and fell head-first to the ground, landing mainly on one shoulder. I was too far away to catch her, but close enough to watch, as if in slow motion, as she fell to the ground. She hit it hard. It was a terrifying moment.

It also pretty much ruined any birthday plans we may have made. Praise the Lord, she didn’t break anything, but she bruised up pretty bad, and pulled a bunch of muscles in her back and neck.

She is ok, (she says) but she walks like Walter Brennan did in the old TV sitcom “The Real McCoys”. And she has pretty much lost the use of her right arm until the bruising on her shoulder goes down.

Gayle is a real trooper. It would have been entirely reasonable for her to blame me for dragging her from our home on some ill-defined ‘Mission from God’ in which our role so far has been merely to make ourselves available.

Since we began this operation, it has been a case of one step forward, two steps back.

Having made the extra, unplanned leap — four steps down to the hard ground at the bottom — I wouldn’t have blamed her for blaming me. But, as I said, God blessed me with a real ‘help-meet’ (Genesis 2:18 KJV).

She wouldn’t hear of it. “These things happen on road trips,” she says. “I’ll just be more careful.”

So we left Sturgis, Michigan early that morning to make the 190-mile drive to Chicago, arriving on the South side at about 10:20. It took until almost 3 pm to make the forty miles from the South Side to the North Side!

American poet-laureate Carl Sandburg gave Chicago it’s nickname, “the City of Big Shoulders” in his 1916 poem, “Chicago”.

Driving into Chicago, I noted Chicago’s highways had no shoulders at all. Just construction barriers.

At one point, crawling at 5 mph through the endless construction zones, I phoned OL member Frank Spaniak to let him know we were in town. I couldn’t resist; when he answered, the first thing I said to him was, “You live here ON PURPOSE?”

Frank explained Chicago’s two seasons: in Chicago, there is winter . . . and construction season.

When we arrived on the North Side, Frank came out to meet us, and helped us get situated at a campsite. Bless his heart, he not only helped us find one, but he jumped in his car and led us to it.

Then Frank hung around, helped find a site, directed me into it, helped me take off the car dolly trailer and stayed and helped until we were completely settled in.

By the time we finally got settled in, it was after six pm. Exhausted, we fell into bed at 7:30. Never left the campsite after arriving. Some birthday.

On Friday, we had the extreme pleasure of meeting Ric and Gwenn Worshill. It was more than a pleasure. It was a blessing. Ric is president of the Messianic Southern Baptist Conference here, in addition to working full-time as a Chicago cop. Heck of a guy. We were best friends almost from the moment we met.

(I forgot how much I missed straight-from-the shoulder ‘cop talk’. It was refreshing, like a cool breeze on a hot day.)

We met for lunch and spent the whole afternoon together. It was such a wonderful time of fellowship that we hated to part company when the time came.

There was so much more to discuss. But we’ll have time.

I have been invited to teach at Ric’s Thursday Bible study next week. I am truly looking forward to the opportunity to serve. Ric has made it his mission to use his contacts here to help get this ol’ donkey saddled up to carry the Message.

Ric even located us a more affordable site to park this old bus while we are here. We packed up early this morning and made the 25 mile move to the new site where we will be staying for at least the next month.

All along the way, the enemy has made it HIS mission to discourage us and convince us that we are off on a fool’s errand. Anything that could possibly go wrong so far, probably has. But its been such a non-stop assault that it has lost its impact. It’s no longer a burden, its becoming something of a game to us.

Yesterday, my computer broke down. No idea why, and no particular reason.

It was working fine, and then it just rebooted itself in the midst of a column I was working on, and went into an endless loop. It would get as far as the splash screen, restart, and do it again. And again. At first, I was frustrated. Then I got mad. Now, I am oddly amused at his efforts. We aren’t gonna quit, if only to spite him.

My main computer is still broken. I am still trying to figure out what the problem is. I have ruled out a hardware problem, so for now, I am working on Gayle’s laptop until I solve the problem. If this one breaks down, I’ll go to a library. If that option is closed to me, I’ll dictate over the phone. Even the enemy can’t be everywhere.

Gayle’s injuries are, PTL, only superficial. Lots of bruising and she is really stiff and sore from her fall, but says she is fine, otherwise.

What a God we serve! Do your best, you old devil. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world. I don’t know what is in store for us, but I know it has His blessing. Or you wouldn’t be trying so hard to put the kibosh on the whole thing.

Ain’t gonna happen. We’re in it for the Duration. Together with all of you, my brothers and sisters of our Omega Letter fellowship. May God bless our mission.

And may God bless you all. Until He comes.