Thankful For Nine

Thankful For Nine
Vol: 74 Issue: 22 Thursday, November 22, 2007

I think I’ve said this before. Of all the various holidays, both secular and religious that we celebrate in our culture, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Every year, I discover another new reason why.

It isn’t so much for the way it is celebrated — about the only thing that bores me more than a parade is a football game (sorry sports fans, but I’m not smart enough to keep track of all the stats necessary to enjoy the game).

What I love about Thanksgiving is both its premise and the confusing effect it engenders in 21st century America.

First, I love the premise of setting aside a national day of Thanksgiving for our national and individual blessings. The Scriptures tell us “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1st Thessalonians 2:13)

Thanksgiving Day is the day that His people humble themselves and call upon His Name.

“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2nd Chronicles 7:14)

I am under no illusions that everybody in America sets aside time on this day to thank Almighty God for their blessings. But the whole day is set apart by official government proclamation for the purpose — whether everyone avails themselves or not.

Thanksgiving Day is one of the two conundrums that face American secularists, since they have nobody to thank for the day off, so they call it “Turkey Day”.

Setting aside a day to honor a turkey and capping off the day by eating the guest of honor must leave them at least a little conflicted. The second is funerals, as once expressed on an atheist’s tombstone epitaph; “All dressed up — and no place to go.”

For nearly two hundred years, giving thanks was voluntary, but since November, 1941, Thanksgiving Day has officially been a “perpetual day of Thanksgiving to God Almighty for the continuance of His favor and protection to these United States” by Act of Congress.

Thanksgiving Day tends to highlight America’s spiritual schizophrenia and gives me hope that God will pronounce America ‘not guilty by reason of spiritual insanity’ and forestall judgment upon it for another year.

Viewed from the perspective of the Court’s post -1948 interpretation of the 1st Amendment, Thanksgiving Day is about the only clearly unconstitutional exercise of religion in America.

The Court has ordered everything from the removal of Bibles from school libraries to ordering the removal of the Ten Commandments from public places based on the 1st Amendment’s so-called ‘separation clause’.

What the 1st Amendment says is this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Supreme Court has seized on the first clause; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” as justification for violating the second claus; “prohibiting the free exercise thereof” on all public-owned property.

Interestingly, interpreting the first clause as meaning any public endorsement is the same as a Congressional declaration not only negates the second clause, but also the third; freedom of speech; weakens the fourth; freedom of the press; undoes the fifth; the right of the people to peaceably assemble; and makes a mockery of the sixth; to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Instead of providing a list of examples of how the ‘separation clause’, as interpreted, erases all the rest, I will give just one, since one is all that is necessary to prove the point:

Walk within 100 feet of an abortion clinic with a Bible visible in one hand and see how many of your 1st Amendment Rights are protected.

Congress didn’t authorize putting up a Ten Commandment placard in Kentucky, the county did. But the Supremes deemed that to be the same thing.

But Congress DID order the setting aside of a perpetual day of Thanksgiving “to God Almighty” — which was then signed into law on November 26, 1941 and the Supreme Court has, to date, allowed it to stand untouched.

This year, I am particularly grateful to our God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Israel and the United States for His promise, and the certain knowledge that;

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)

In Genesis 18 God promised Abraham that He would spare Sodom and Gomorrah if He could find but ten righteous men within its walls.

Until the Supreme Court declares Thanksgiving Day to be unconstitutional, I can at least hope that nine might be enough for another year.

Happy Thanksgiving and may our God richly bless you all.

The Netherlands: A Cautionary Tale

The Netherlands: A Cautionary Tale
Vol: 74 Issue: 21 Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In 58 BC, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul, a region comprising modern-day northern Italy, all of France and Belgium, western Switzerland and parts of the Netherlands and Germany.

In 1648, under the Treaty of Westphalia, the Netherlands was granted independence from Spain following history’s Eighty Years’ War.

One of Rome’s earliest military outposts was in Maastricht in the Netherlands, where the treaty that formally created the European Union was signed in 1992.

During the 15th century’s “Eighty Years’ War” the Dutch provinces became the most important trading centre of Northern Europe.

The Dutch nation flourished culturally and economically, creating what historian Simon Schama has called an “embarrassment of riches”. The first stock market crash in history was the Dutch stock market in 1637.

In 1688, William III of the Netherlands invaded England, leading to the English revolution that swept King James II from the throne, installing William the Dutchman as King of England.

It was the Dutch who settled New York City. Many of the place names around eastern New York are Dutch — (Amsterdam, NY comes to mind).

It was the Dutch unit of financial measure – the thaler — that loaned its name to the almighty American ‘dollar’.

When America was little more than a collection of coastal villages dotting the Eastern Seaboard, the Netherlands was among the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations.

While the Americans were struggling to break away from their own colonial masters in 1776, the Dutch already ruled the vast colonial empires from Indonesia to Africa. There were no doubt Dutchmen serving in the Roman Army in the time of Christ.

The British invaded and tried to conquer the Netherlands in the 15th century. The Belgians invaded and tried in the 19th century.

The Nazis invaded conquered, occupied and even tried to erase the Netherlands from the map in the mid-20th century — but the Netherlands remained Dutch, tulips, dikes, wooden shoes and all.

Until the youth movements of the 60s and 70s abandoned Dutch traditional values, rejected Dutch nationalism, and embraced multiculturalism, sexual ‘freedoms’, abortion, women’s rights, legalized drug abuse, euthanasia, the environment,and especially, unrestricted immigration.

The once-great Dutch empire was reduced, said Princess Maxima, wife of Holland’s Crown Prince Willem, to what she described in a speech last month as a place where;

“A typical Dutch person doesn’t exist.”

Assessment:

Her comments have tapped into a growing feeling among many Dutch who fear the rise in Muslim extremism in their midst and the loss of their own national identity.

“Unfortunately, the debate about Dutch identity is too often held at a very trite and trivial level, as if the discussion is between Brussels sprouts and wooden shoes on the one hand, and couscous and caftans on the other,” according to Bart Jan Spruyt, founder of The Edmund Burke Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“What is really at stake, due to a frivolous immigration policies and decades of multicultural indifference, is the identity of the Dutch nation, Dutch history and culture as a part of the history of Western civilization.”

The Dutch model for immigration allowed new immigrants to separate into ethnic groupings known as ‘pillars’, meaning people of different ethnic backgrounds, faiths or political persuasions had their own churches, schools, newspapers, television and radio broadcasters and labor unions.

The result was a hodge-podge of unassimilated ethnic groups loyal only to their communities, their home countries — or Islam.

On December 23, 2004, the Dutch Ministry of the Interior published a 60-page report entitled; “From Dawa to Jihad.”

The report concluded that there are close to one million Muslim immigrants, out of a population of just sixteen million, and that of that number, it estimated roughly fifty thousand of those are radical jihadists.

It also concluded that recruitment in The Netherlands for the armed radical Muslim struggle – mainly among descendants of immigrants – is not incidental but rather a trend.

Holland with its disproportionately high Muslim population is the canary in the mine. All across Europe, debate on Islam is being stopped.

Italy s greatest living writer, Oriana Fallaci, was facing trial in her home country on charges of defaming at her death in September 2006, and in Britain the government seems intent on pushing through laws that would make truths about Islam and the conduct of its followers impossible to voice.

The governments of Europe have been tricked into believing that criticism of a belief is the same thing as criticism of a race. As a consequence, it becomes increasingly difficult to discuss the threats posed by the malignant ideology in their midst.

It is not racist to want to preserve one’s national culture, anymore than it is racist to want to preserve one’s family culture. Culture isn’t rooted in race, but in common beliefs. values and goals.

My family racial line is Irish. I have members of my family who married in from different ethnic backgrounds than Irish, but they are still part of my unique family culture.

We all tell stories to our kids about where we came from, and why family ties and family values are important. A national culture is merely the expression of a larger version of the family unit.

Holland is a country whose culture was invaded with the enthusiastic support of its citizens who blindly and blissfully embraced the liberal Marxism that led to its cultural occupation.

They never saw the iron fist inside the velvet glove of multicultural madness until it hit them squarely between the eyes. But by then, they were already on the way down.

Holland is now a nation without national definition. It is too late for debate. It is too late to try and stuff the genie back into the bottle.

Those few Dutchmen who have tried have died. The rest are in hiding.

When Theo Van Gough attempted to produce a film critical of Islam written by Somali-born ex-Muslim and Dutch citizen Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Van Gough was murdered in broad daylight on an Amsterdam street.

The Muslim jihadist who killed him pinned a warning to others about insulting Islam on Van Gough’s chest. It was pinned there by a knife.

The Van Gough murder sparked a number of reprisal attacks by the Muslim community in The Netherlands, and Ali joined the growing group of intellectuals forced into hiding by the terror they invited into their midst.

It’s been said that ‘a liberal is a conservative who has never been mugged.’ Holland’s new rising political star is Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Freedom Party. He rose to power on the strength of statements such as the one he gave in a British interview in February:

“Islam itself is the problem. Islam is a violent religion,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “The Prophet Mohammed was a violent man. The Koran is mostly a violent book. We should invest in Muslim people but they have to first get rid of half the Koran and half of their beliefs,” he said.

(That statement earned him the sobriquet of ‘anti-immigrant politician’ in the liberal Telegraph’s lead sentence.)

Here in America, those who oppose the kind of unrestricted immigration that killed Holland face the same blind knee-jerk liberal reaction as their Dutch counterparts.

To liberals, restricting immigration is racist and selfish and xenophobic and any other insult they can think of. If one opposes unrestricted immigration, then such a person is selfishly depriving of the benefits they themselves enjoy.

I listened to liberal queen Susan Estrich last night on Hannity and Colmes defending a California law that would extend free education benefits to illegal aliens that it specifically denies members of the California National Guard, for example.

Dr. Estrich is no intellectual lightweight — she is a professor of law at Loyola University. I even met her once. But it is mindless babble nonetheless.

Susan Estrich lives in a gated community. So do most California liberals. They see no conflict in the fact that they themselves lock the doors to their own homes at night. They put up fences around their own yards. They lock their cars when they park them. Don’t they want others to enjoy the same benefits that they have?

Of course they don’t. They want to give away yours. That is what makes liberal ideology so insidious. Liberalism is like a Tootsie-Roll Pop with an arsenic center.

Holland is a typical liberal success story. Other countries where liberals rule find themselves more or less following Holland down the tubes, some more than others, but all in the same direction.

For America in 2008, Holland serves as a cautionary tale. The root of liberal thinking is that man is his own supreme being, and therefore, it is up to man to provide what a ‘mythical God’ cannot.

Take your own mental poll: Those who trust God tend not to trust government. True or False? Those who put their trust in big government tend not to trust God. True or False?

If you picked ‘true’ for both questions, then you are in line with the Gallup poll that found conservatives are twice as likely to self-identify as born-again Christians as liberals are.

The Scriptures warn us (twice): “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)

Just ask a Dutchman — if you can still find one.

Dear God: Thanks For Nothing!

Dear God: Thanks For Nothing!
Vol: 74 Issue: 20 Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Although I pledged myself not to watch the news for a week, I did hear a story in passing that I mentally marked for follow-up when I got back to work.

Last week in desperation, Governor Sonny Perdue called for a state-wide prayer vigil asking God to break the state of drought that has reached epic proportions across much of the southeast, and especially Georgia.

The part of the story that I caught was just a news-crawl saying something about it raining shortly afterwards. It was that part that caused me to make the mental followup note. I was curious to see what the media reaction would be.

The media has had several days to digest and distill it before I had a chance to get to the story. I don’t know what I was expecting, but whatever it was, it wasn’t what I got.

I failed to find even a single positive story about it in my news aggregators. But from my new perspective of having a few days outside of the spin machine, I did detect a bit of revisionist history going on.

For example, in several spun versions, there was already rain in the forecast, so it was at best a coincidence. That was the position taken by the Washington Post, for example.

But while I avoided the news for the most part, the one thing one cannot avoid on the North Carolina coast is the weather report. Along the coast, the Weather Network is the default station on every television.

The day before the prayer vigil, they were reporting a storm front that would move eastward, but warned that it would collapse before reaching drought-stricken Georgia.

Far from rain being in the forecast, the chance of the rain making it that far east meant, the weather guy quipped, that it would take ‘a miracle’ — but one could argue there was a ‘chance’.

Whether or not it was forecast is irrelevant, so why alter the facts? Were they expecting God to make rain without making clouds first?

One news report from the UK dated yesterday bore the sneering headline, “Sonny Prays For Rain — Georgia’s Solution to the US Water Crisis.”

The story went through all the details; selected quotes from the Governor’s prayer; background information on the drought itself, etc., ending the story with a line about how the drought is crippling the seafood industry — and never once mentioned that it rained three hours after the prayer vigil concluded.

I read it twice to make sure. One would think that a story about a state-wide prayer vigil might think to mention how it all turned out. They had four days to ask somebody.

The LA Times covered the story as well. “More than a few people who attended seemed skeptical that prayer would end the drought,” wrote LATimes staff writer Jenny Jarvis.

The piece continued, “Lance Warner, 22, a history student at Georgia State University, smirked as members of the crowd stretched their arms to the heavens and cried “Amen!” and “Hallelujah!”

“You couldn’t make this up,” he said. “You can’t make up for years of water mismanagement with a prayer session. It’s lunacy!”

About a block way, more than 20 protesters — some carrying placards saying “All hail Sonny Perdue” and “Is it raining yet?” — joined a rally organized by the Atlanta Freethought Society. The vigil, they said, violated the principle of separation of church and state.

“The governor is exceeding his constitutional authority,” said Ed Buckner, an atheist and treasurer of the group. “He has no right to set up prayer services on behalf of the people of Georgia, particularly not on the grounds of the state Capitol.”

The paper noted that Perdue was a Baptist. It noted that he prayed for rain in June in Macon. It noted that in 1986, then-Governor Joe Harris prayed for rain in Marietta.

The paper quoted bloggers scoffing at the prayer vigil, including such gems of theological wisdom as,

“God is not an ATM machine you can go to and get whatever you need whenever you ask for it,” and “Stop developing, seed the clouds, think of some other useful solution,” and “I’m praying for a new governor.”

The Times’ piece was careful to blame Georgians for being wasteful, finding an an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center to offer his unbiased theological opinion:

If he’s saying that Georgians are wasteful, we certainly agree,” he said. “I hope he is truly sorry we’ve been so wasteful. . . . If you look at the way Georgia is growing — paving over 50 acres a day in the Atlanta area, choking out streams and cutting down forests, we’ve got a long way to go.”

(Incidentally, with all that information available to it, the LATimes forgot to mention that it rained, too.)

In Canada, the Toronto Star used the prayer vigil as an excuse to preach its own gospel of global warming with Sonny Perdue serving as poster boy for all that is wrong with the environment.

“Oh Father, we acknowledge our wastefulness,” Governor Perdue advised God last week, adding that “we’re doing better.” But, sneered the Star, “it seems, not nearly enough.”

(And guess what! The Star never mentioned that it rained either.)

As I said, I found not a single positive story on the subject in the Google news aggregator — not even from places where one might expect to.

Christianity Today admitted in its headline that, “Georgia Gets Rain After Governor’s Prayer,” but cautioned in its subtitle that, “The rain will not be enough to end the state’s epic drought.”

The mainstream media’s message is that the fact it rained hours after the whole state officially prayed for rain means nothing.

The message from Christianity Today was, “Is that all? Thanks for nothing.”

Gee! And we’re so grateful for what we’ve already received.

Back in the Saddle Again

Back in the Saddle Again
Vol: 74 Issue: 19 Monday, November 19, 2007

I learned something new while I was on vacation that I didn’t realize until this morning. I realized for the first time just what a hard job keeping up with the Omega Letter Daily Digest really is.

I’m not complaining — far from it. I love my work, I love my OL family and I love being part of something so spiritually vital as our fellowship. Indeed, one of the hardest things I’ve done in the past week is NOT look at a computer.

As I sit down this morning to sort out what is going on in the world, I feel like I am trying to take a surprise test that I didn’t study for. So instead of bluffing my way through, I’ll just share some of my vacation with you, and we’ll get back to figuring out who’s on first tomorrow.

I stayed at my buddy Rick’s house for the week in his spare room — which didn’t make things any easier. Rick’s spare room is also his computer room.

(It gave me a glimmer of how hard it would be for an addict to kick his habit — in some strange way, NOT working was harder than working.)

I arrived just in time for the start of the Marine Corps Birthday celebration — nobody knew I was coming — it was a grand reunion.

Captain John acted as if he expected me all along — he handed me the Commandant’s yearly greeting to read to the group like I do every year.

“I see you adapted and overcame,” he growled. “Take your station!”

Our guest of honor was a retired Marine Lt. Col. with enough fruit salad on his chest to start his own produce department.

(Translation for you non-military types — “fruit salad” is Marine slang for combat decoration ribbons)

It was a great evening of war stories and old war horses reliving their glory days from many battlefields; WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the unknown battles of unnamed conflicts known only to them and a handful of spook-types.

I spent the rest of the Veteran’s Day weekend watching old war movies with my buddies. It sounds boring to some, but there is a real education there, if one takes the time to study the lessons offered.

The WWII movies I like the best were the ones Hollywood was churning out in the early years of the war when its outcome was still in doubt. Hollywood didn’t understand the enemy, and it didn’t try to.

Instead, they stuck to what they DID understand; we were good, the enemy was bad, they started it, and it was up to us to finish it. Our soldiers were heroic, brutal yet honorable, a force for good in an epic struggle with evil incarnate.

The war turned out the way Hollywood scripted it. We utterly destroyed our enemies and marched home in triumph.

We watched a couple of movies set during the Korean War, and one could see a subtle shift. Our forces were still brave, but so were the enemy’s. The main characters were not quite so fierce, not quite so honorable; the enemy was not quite so evil, our cause not quite so just.

The Korea War ended in stalemate. Nobody won, nobody lost, and the Korean War has yet to formally draw to a conclusion.

Then Hollywood moved on to Vietnam. We watched “Platoon” and “Full Metal Jacket” and “Hamburger Hill”. In those films, it was hard to figure out exactly who the enemy really was or which side to root for.

Vietnam ended in a loss. Or as observed by a character in the Clint Eastwood film, “Heartbreak Ridge” the score was 1, 0 and 0 for our side.

In post-Vietnam war movies, no matter which conflict they chronicled, there were no ‘good’ guys’ — just some guys were worse than others.

In the most recent war movies, our forces are depicted as dangerous psychopathic Nazi wannabes — unless they are gay, disloyal or cowards, like the hero in the slanderous 2004 movie, “Jarhead.”

It was like watching our society implode in fast forward.

But the men who fought those wars didn’t change. There is no difference between a Japanese bullet and a Taliban bullet — when it is fired at you.

Marines from all these wars didn’t fight for governments or to advance some kind of unpopular foreign policy. They fought for their buddies, for their flag, for their families — and for the ungrateful morons who can’t tell the difference.

Semper fi.

Assessment:

I was blessed with some pretty nice weather for this time of year — mostly mid-sixties to low seventies — there were only two days where I had to wear shoes.

The rest of the time was flip-flops and T-shirt weather. I had plenty of time and the right weather to sit on my favorite sand dune, watch the waves break against the shore, and spend some time alone with God surrounded by what is, (to me) His most magnificent creation.

I didn’t get a chance to go out and do any deep sea fishing this time — the “Scarlet Lady” was out to sea under the command of a new captain, Barry, whom Rick hired to fish her commercially.

(I might have been on vacation, but she wasn’t. Timing is everything.)

However, when she came in on Thursday after three nights at sea, Rick and I went down to meet her at the fish house and see how she did. Rick told me to prepare to be amazed, and he was right.

Barry was somebody who’d stepped right out of a Hemingway novel. He’s a crusty old one-legged Down Easter with a brogue so thick my out-out-tune ears could only catch one word in three.

True to the Hemingway model, Rick told me Barry lost his leg to case of fish poisoning. (But he got around that boat on a peg-leg better than I could on two.)

The only thing missing to complete picture was the eye-patch. (Rick asked how the weather was off-shore and Barry growled, “One of my legs like to froze solid out there.”)

Fishing a two-man crew, using rod and reel, three days and three nights, the boat’s fish box was crammed to overflowing with what tallied up to over twelve hundred pounds of beeliners, grouper, triggerfish and other delicacies from the sea.

There were a couple of fish I’d never seen, and I asked Rick what they were. He told me they were from the “deep water” saying, “I’ve never carried you out that deep.”

Rick and I usually fish fifty miles off-shore from Morehead City in the Gulf Stream. I didn’t want to ask any more stupid land-lubber questions, but I was impressed. Both of these guys were close to my age (and, as a ‘junior’ senior, I qualify for free-checking and some senior’s discounts).

After eight hours on the water, I need three days of Ben-Gay. I caught five tuna in one day once and I was unable to lift my arms the next day. All five fish combined weighed 130 pounds.

They were out there for three days and nights. If the average fish they caught weighed twelve pounds, then they caught about a thousand fish the same way I caught those five tuna. There’s deep sea fishing — and then there’s DEEP sea fishing.

Meeting Peg-leg Barry and watching them unload those fish was the high point of my vacation.

Other than that, I really didn’t do much more than relax. Rick and I suffer from the same old guy disease. We get tired when it gets dark.

And since it gets dark at 6 this time of year, if we went to bed later than eight-thirty in the evening, it was because one of us would wake the other one up snoring in front of the TV.

(I didn’t believe I snored. Rick didn’t believe he did, either. Now we know.)

The only night we ventured out later than the dinner hour was the last one. Becky’s annual Thanksgiving dinner was Sunday morning, and the locals living abroad all come home the night before, including one who moved to Nashville to pursue his songwriting career.

Billy Todd always plays at Becky’s the night before and everybody comes out. I couldn’t make the dinner because I was leaving the next day, but I was able to make his concert and see all the expatriate locals that I wouldn’t get a chance to see at dinner.

We had a ball, but we stayed out WAY too late. My flight left at five-thirty AM, so we had to get up for the drive to the airport at three.

I hate flying too much to be able to sleep on the plane, so I looked quite a sight when Gayle picked me up at the airport Sunday morning at ten.

I was unshaved and rumpled, and my suitcase smelled slightly of fish, but I am a new man.

Thanks for the vacation. I hope you enjoyed the retrospective series while I was away on my adventure.

Now I’m back in the saddle again.

The Deadliest Sin

The Deadliest Sin
Vol: 74 Issue: 17 Saturday, November 17, 2007

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.

“This column first appeared on July 26, 2006”

“And Now a Word from the Tooth Fairy . . .”

“And Now a Word from the Tooth Fairy . . .”
Vol: 74 Issue: 16 Friday, November 16, 2007

“The president’s frequent references to the terrorist attacks of September 11 show the weakness of his arguments . . . He is willing to exploit the sacred ground of 9/11, knowing that there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.”

With this comment, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi demonstrated to those few remaining who still doubt it, that liberals live in an alternate universe than the rest of us.

Pelosi’s comments are so out of touch with reality that it is almost pointless to rebut them. Any rebuttal seems to me to automatically fit the ‘beer makes you drunk’ variety. (“Pssst! Did you hear? BEER can make you DRUNK!! Who knew?”)

According to Pelosi, (who evidently was unaware of beer’s consequences) the President KNOWS there is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq. (Ummm, what the President KNOWS is what happens when one drinks too much beer. Judging by her comments, Ms. Pelosi does not).

At least, one can hope that the person who now occupies a leadership role in the government’s disloyal opposition was really drunk when she said that. The only alternative explanation is that she thinks her constituency must be.

Allow the appalling stupidity of Pelosi’s ‘rebuttal’ to the President’s speech sink in for a minute. Remember that she is one of the three top Democrats in the Democratic party.

If the Democrats held the majority in the Congress, Nancy Pelosi would be third-in-line in the national line of succession.

If something were to happen to the President, the Vice-President would take over. If something were to happen to both of them, the next in line would be the Speaker of the House. If the Dems held the majority, that would be Nancy Pelosi!

For the sake of argument, let’s take a second to review the main point of the liberal’s ‘rebuttal’.

‘There is no connection between 9/11 and the war in Iraq.’

The attacks on September 11 (I guess that is what Pelosi is referring to by 9/11 and not the police emergency telephone number, but who knows?) were perpetrated by al-Qaeda terrorists dedicated to the destruction of America’s representative republic and its replacement with an Islamic government.

Everybody still with me? Any disagreement so far?

The war AGAINST Iraq ended in April, 2003 with the fall of Saddam’s Ba’athist regime.

On June 28th of last year, the Coalition Provisional Government was replaced with an Iraqi government that was installed in a free election characterized by a voter turnout that made American voter participation in Election 2004 pale by comparison.

The war IN Iraq that our forces are now waging is against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s forces. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is a top al-Qaeda commander who openly admits that he takes his orders from Osama bin-Laden.

al-Zarqawi has allowed his communiques between himself and bin-Laden to be intercepted so as to put any doubts to rest about his affiliation and intent.

For Pelosi and her followers, this is a difficult equation to master, so once again, I will type really, really slow . . . the connection between the war in Iraq and 9/11 is that, in both cases, the combatants, objectives and methods are the same.

On September 11, it was al-Qaeda against America. The war on terror is, from the American perspective, a war between America and al-Qaeda. The combatants in Iraq are Americans and al-Qaeda terrorists.

There is no CONNECTION between an Albanian goat and a Australian platypus.

There is no DIFFERENCE between 9/11 and the war we are now waging in Iraq.

Assessment:

To make it fly, the Democrats are pulling out all the old canards. NJ idiot Jon Corzine appeared on Fox News this morning to bring up ‘no weapons of mass destruction’ and ‘Bush lied’ to support Pelosi’s amazing contention 9/11 isn’t connected to the war against al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The New York Times had already published an editorial decrying the President’s ‘cynical exploitation’ of 9/11 before he had finished giving his speech.

By this morning, most of the headlines in the liberal media were parroting the same mantra.

Therefore, the Democrat’s desperate and transparent effort to portray itself as the party of truth, justice and the American way (as opposed to the lying liars who control all three houses of power) is gaining momentum among the useful idiots who are only too happy to provide propaganda victories to the enemy, provided it will boost their own short-term political prospects.

It boggles the mind. First, it is mind-boggling that an American politician would openly make such a seditious comment as part of a national rebuttal speech while American forces are literally still on the battlefield.

Secondly, that it would resonate throughout the liberal establishment the way that it has is simply stunning.

To hear other, presumably intelligent, well-read and well-educated American politicians repeat the claim puts me in mind of Election 2000, when the mantra of the mind-numbed was ‘every vote should count’ — as they simultaneously fought a pitched court battle to disqualify the ballots of our overseas military forces.

It’s like the Tooth Fairy is writing the Democrats’ speeches, which are evidently then vetted by the Queen of Hearts and March Hare before being delivered by the Mad Hatter.

Have these people no shame at all?

It is true that the 9/11 Commission found no link between Saddam’s Iraq and 9/11, (despite documents proving Uday and Qusai met with Osama in 1998 and promised to provide training facilities, so even that ‘truth’ is suspect).

But that bears zero relevance to the fact that it is the 9/11 terrorists we are fighting in Iraq today.

If, as Osama’s useful idiots like Pelosi contend, we pulled out of Iraq, what would happen then? Where would al-Qaeda go? Would all those foreign fighters in Iraq all buy houses in Baghdad, hang up their jihad suits and go job hunting?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the resources being directed against the US military in Iraq would be redirected against the US civilian homeland.

al-Qaeda fighters IN Iraq aren’t fighting FOR Iraq, they are fighting AGAINST Iraq. Their targets, apart from American soldiers, are Iraqi soldiers, politicians, policemen, school children, housewives, garbagemen, school teachers, etc., etc.

American soldiers aren’t IN Iraq fighting AGAINST Iraq, they are fighting FOR Iraq. THEIR targets are the fighters targeting those who are killing those on the list above, not Iraqis or the Iraqi government.

(I’m STILL typing real slow, in the unlikely event a liberal finds himself reading today’s briefing).

And not a word of what I’ve said is in defense of either the Republicans or the White House. (If that’s what you think, stand over there with Pelosi. Here’s your sign.)

It is a defense of America, who is under attack from all sides abroad, and under an even more vicious and deadly attack from within.

By quislings like Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Jon Corzine, Dick Durbin and others from any ideology that would so cheerfully sacrifice America’s long-term interests for short-term political gain.

This sounds like a rant. Maybe it is, but it is not intended to be. Neither is it intended to be political, despite the subject matter. It is impossible to separate politics from Bible prophecy and make any sense of the Bible’s outline for last days.

The antichrist is a politician. He comes to power through the political process. His platform is deception on a global scale. To be successful, he will have to have the support of a broad global constituency already conditioned to believe a lie, if properly packaged and repeated often enough.

Throughout my lifetime, one of the prophecy questions that always troubled me was how someone as overtly evil as the antichrist would be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the kindest, most generous, and most sophisticated people the world has ever known, for such is the America I know and love.

But when something as, (dare I say it . . .? Yes, I must, it is the only appropriate adjective available), when something as STUPID as Pelosi’s comment that the war in Iraq is not connected to the war on terror is not immediately recognized for what it is, my question about ‘how’ is answered for me.

The Apostle Paul, writing of the last days, warned of ‘perilous times’ because those “without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” would eventually gain positions of power to pave the way for the coming deceiver. (2 Timothy 3:3-4)

That certainly helps us get a better sense of “what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” (2nd Thessalonians 2:6)

The ministry of the Spirit of Truth is removed with the believing Church at the Rapture. And when truth becomes meaningless, those people remaining will stand for nothing and fall for anything. We are almost there.

The anti-American, anti-God worldview of the liberal American Left mirrors that of most of the rest of the world.

It is a ‘perfect storm’ where treason is fashionable, patriotism is the exclusive domain of the ‘religious right’ and outright lies are indistinguishable from abject truth.

Or, as Solomon expressed it in Ecclesiastes 4:5, when “The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.”

“This column first appeared on June 29, 2005”

Special Report: The Year of the Countdown

Special Report: The Year of the Countdown
Vol: 74 Issue: 15 Thursday, November 15, 2007

As discussed in previous letters, most of the major prophetic fulfillments of the last days can trace their genesis to the same point in history — on or near the year 1948.

This is most significant since Jesus said that the generation who witnessed the restoration of Israel (the blossoming fig tree) ‘would not pass until ALL was fulfilled’ (Matthew 24:34)

Jesus spoke, for example, of ‘wars and rumors of wars’, while cautioning, ‘the end is not yet’. (Matthew 24:6) The Cold War was the ultimate ‘rumor of war’. It lasted more than forty years without either side ever directly confronting the other on the battlefield. Historians trace the beginning of the Cold War to the Berlin Airlift to break the Soviet blockade of Berlin, imposed on June 24, 1948.

The most well-known of all Bible prophecies is the Mark of the Beast. According to Revelation 13:15-17, the antichrist will assume control of a global system of government unlike any the world had ever known. Under the antichrist, any person outside that system will be declared ‘socially dead’ — any who refuse to accept the Mark will be unable to buy or sell.

Consider this for a minute, but I suggest you sit down before you do.

We are so close to that system today that the SAME METHOD is ALREADY being used to rout out and destroy terrorist cells! Every economic transaction, every internet session, every email and every phone call — world-wide — is already being electronically monitored as part of the war on terror.

To catch the terrorists in our midst, they must be isolated from mainstream society, their sources of funding targeted and destroyed, and their ability to engage in day-to-day social intercourse electronically interrupted.

Such intimate control of society was impossible before the advent of the Computer Age. Although there were clunky working computers dating back to the 1930’s, they relied on notoriously unreliable vacuum tubes, and firing one up consumed enough electricity to light a small city.

Before the digital explosion, transistors were a vital part of improvements in existing analog systems, such as radios and stereos.

When it was placed in computers, however, the transistor became an integral part of the technology boom. They are also capable of being mass-produced by the millions on a sliver of silicon the semiconductor chip. It is this almost boundless ability to integrate transistors onto chips that has fueled the information age.

Today these chips are not just a part of computers. They are also important in devices as diverse as video cameras, cellular phones, copy machines, jumbo jets, modern automobiles, manufacturing equipment, electronic scoreboards, and video games. Without the transistor there would be no Internet and no space travel.

Bell Labs patented the transistor chip in 1948, launching the modern computer Age.

Revelation 13 also highlights the career of the False Prophet, who will lead a global religious system that John describes as ‘having two horns like a lamb’ but ‘spake as a dragon’.

The World Council of Churches, the UN-backed ecumenical movement, whose stated goal is to bring about a global religious system, was created in Amsterdam in August, 1948.

Ostensibly a ‘Christian’ council, the WCC doctrinal statement says, it passes “no judgment upon the sincerity with which member churches accept” the WCC’s basic ‘confession’ of Jesus Christ. In other words, NOT believing in Jesus is no barrier to membership in the WCC, something Paul called, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” (2nd Timothy 3)

The modern European superstate traces its roots to the 1948 Benelux Treaty that inspired the modern revival of the old Roman Empire.

And finally, we return to Israel. In Leviticus 26:3, 7-8, the Bible says that the army of Israel would have a supernatural power to prevail during times of conflict. Leviticus says that 5 people would be able to chase away 100 people, and that 100 would be able to chase away 10,000.

On May 15, 1948, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon invaded Israel. The combined populations of these countries was at least 20 million at the time, versus less than a million Israelis.

When the war was over, not only had Israel driven off the invaders, but she expanded her territory by over fifty percent. The 1967 war lasted only six days and left Israel in control of Jerusalem for the first time in 2000 years. The 1973 Yom Kippur War was over in a couple of weeks.

The Year 1948 marked the end of one Divine Countdown and the beginning of another. The first Divine Countdown dealt with the duration of Israel’s Diaspora.

In Ezekiel 4:5-6, the prophet records the period determined by God as punishment for Israel’s disobedience:

“For I have laid upon thee the years of their iniquity, according to the number of the days, three hundred and ninety days: so shalt thou bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.

And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year.”

Babylon was later conquered by Cyrus in 539 BC. Cyrus allowed the Jews to leave Babylon and to return to their homeland. But, only a small number returned. The return had taken place sometime around 536 BC, 70 years after Judah lost independence to Babylon as Jeremiah predicted.

Because most of the exiles chose to stay in pagan Babylon rather than return to the Holy Land, the remaining 360 years of their punishment was multiplied by 7. The reason is explained in Bible’s book of Leviticus. (Leviticus 26:18, 26:21, 26:24 and 26:28). In Leviticus, it says that if the people did not repent while being punished, the punishment would be multiplied by 7. And, by staying in pagan Babylon, most exiles were refusing to repent.

So, if you take the remaining 360 years of punishment and multiply by 7, you get 2,520 years. That is 2,520 Jewish lunar years. 2,520 years x the 360-day lunar calendar works out to 907,200 days. Divide that by 365 and you come up with 2485.479 years.

2,485.479 years from 536 BC brings us to the end of the first quarter of the year 1949 — exactly one year AFTER Israel’s restoration in 1948. But 1 BC and 1 AD were the SAME year, so the ACTUAL date on our calendar that Ezekiel predicted the restoration of Israel corresponds to late spring, 1948!

1948 — the Year of the Countdown, counts down in BOTH directions. It counts down with staggering precision to the exact point in history when the fig tree would once again blossom.

That event triggered the Second Countdown — the one that signals the end of the Church Age. It is somewhat less precise, for obvious reasons.

Jesus said no man would ever be able to calculate the exact day and time, but He did tell us we would know when ‘it was near, even at the door’, saying, “THIS generation shall not pass, until ALL be fulfilled.”

The current Prime Minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, fought in the 1948 War of Independence. He is still around. And so are we. So the ‘fig tree’ generation has not yet passed from the scene.

And it won’t before the Return of Christ. Which could be any minute now.

Keep looking up!

“This column first appeared on August 7, 2004”