Welcome to the Future

Welcome to the Future
Vol: 75 Issue: 31 Monday, December 31, 2007

I was thinking about all the technological wonders that we had envisioned for the 21st century back in the 1960’s; stuff like death-rays, videophones and flying cars.

(Cell phones weren’t expected until the 24th century, when Captain James T. Kirk uses one to call Scottie aboard the Starship Enterprise. But flying cars and videophones were due around the Year 2000.)

Videophones do exist, but they’re not all that popular. (Back in the 60’s we never dreamed hardly anybody would WANT a videophone.)

And while we could build flying cars, we still haven’t mastered driving the ones on wheels safely.

(It turned out it isn’t the building of cars that fly that was the problem. It’s the idiots that would be driving them while they’re up there.)

But all in all, the future is really much more interesting than even I had daydreamed it would be when I was a kid in the 1960’s.

Who, in the age of LPs and two-song 45 rpm records, could have envisioned a 4G iPod the size of a matchbox that could hold a radio station’s entire library?

While we imagined death-rays (and, indeed, they exist) who would have thought that the first war of the 21st century would instead be fought using high-tech rocks?

(Remember the GPS-guided cement warheads used against the tanks that Saddam parked nears schools and hospitals to minimize collateral damage?)

In 1968, a typical office consisted mainly of a desk and a telephone, some notepads, a typewriter and some filing cabinets.

Who would have dreamed that just four decades later it could all be packed into a laptop computer the size of a clipboard?

Or that an office filing room could be replaced by a “pen” drive smaller that a Bic lighter?

Or that I could sit in this ordinary room in my ordinary house and instantly communicate with thousands of people located on every continent in the world — by hitting the “send” button at the bottom of this page?

In the 1970’s, I was assigned as a computer operator in the Data Processing Department at the Marine Corps Base at Cherry Point, NC.

The computer was housed in a climate-controlled 4000 square foot room kept precisely at a chilly 68 degrees. It had rows and rows of tape drive banks, each the size of a refrigerator.

One of our jobs was printing out payroll checks for the base’s military and civilian employees.

It involved: 1) programmers writing the code; 2) keypunchers to input it onto keypunch cards; 3) a sorter to operate the EAM sorting machine and box them up; 4) an operator to hang the tape on the drive, input the keypunch cards in a big hopper, transfer it to tape, and then; 5) another computer operator to tell the mainframe where to look for the data.

The entire process tied up the whole department for five days, twice a month, using equipment that costs millions and took up a small city block.

Today, I could do it all on my MacBook (which cost less than my first microwave oven did) using Quicken and my laser printer — in two hours or less.

Wirelessly. While watching TV in a little corner of my computer screen.

In 1899, as the 19th century was drawing to a close, US Commissioner of Patents Charles H. Duell solemnly pronounced that, “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

When Duell was born, transportation, communications and trade moved at the same speed as it had since the Greeks discovered hemlock was a poor choice for a cocktail beverage.

In his lifetime, he’d seen the invention of the railway, the steamship, the telegraph and the automobile. What else could be left to invent?

But Duell wasn’t the only one suffering from a lack of vision.

In 1922, Thomas Edison declared, “the radio craze . . . will die out in time.”

In 1943, Thomas J. Watson, who was at the time the chairman of IBM, gave this business forecast: “I think there is a world market for about five computers.”

In 1977, Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment Corporation declared, “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.”

And in 1981, Bill Gates opined; “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

Assessment:

As we’ve seen, predicting the future is no simple task. One of the problems with trying to forecast the future is that the future is a conspiracy of unknown and seemingly unrelated events that must work together exactly for the prediction to be accurate.

IBM failed to see a computer hardware market, Digital Equipment failed to see the demand, and Bill Gates failed to see its potential.

All their predictions failed — and laughably so — within a matter of decades or mere years of their prognostications. And they were the world’s leading experts in those particular fields!

But the Apostle John predicted, not over a period of years or decades or even centuries, but across two millennia, the rise of a centralized global economic system that would come into existence over the space of single generation, somewhere in time.

Such a system wasn’t possible until the invention of computers, in this generation.

The Prophet Ezekiel predicted the rise of a Russian/Persian Islamic alliance that would come into existence in “the latter years” at the same period in history when there was again a nation called “Israel.”

Ezekiel spoke across two and a half millennia, from a point in history when Israel and Judah had both been invaded and destroyed and the survivors taken as foreign slaves.

And from Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no such place on earth as ‘Israel’ (and no Russian/Islamic alliance, either)

The Prophet Daniel, from the same perspective in history, predicted the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great’s Greece.

Daniel also predicted the rise of the Roman Empire, its decline and fall, AND he prophesied its revival, concurrent with the restoration of Israel.

The Hebrew prophets weren’t forecasting the immediate future of a particular industry in which they were the leading actors.

They were forecasting world events, geopolitical alliances, wars, and social and technological changes so profound there were no words in their vocabulary with which to describe them.

And unlike technological ‘prophets’ like Charles Duell, Ken Olsen or even Bill Gates, the Bible prophets have proved themselves 100% accurate, 100% of the time, even when they admittedly didn’t know what they were talking about!

The Prophet Daniel didn’t have a clue as to what he was seeing and hearing:

“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Daniel 12:8)

And for centuries, neither did anybody else. Until only recently, Daniel’s words were sealed.

From the Reformation until the middle of the 20th century, the Book of Daniel was the least studied, least understood and least preached Book in the Bible.

Martin Luther questioned whether or not Daniel even belonged in the canon of Scripture, and John Calvin omitted Daniel altogether when he wrote his commentaries on the Bible.

Without the existence of a literal place called ‘Israel’ Daniel’s prophecies made little sense.

But once Israel was restored to the land, what had previously seemed to be a collection of symbolic heads, horns and beasts began to take on a literal meaning.

Especially in the context of the revealing angel’s charge to Daniel:

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

Duell, Olsen, Gates, etc., couldn’t begin to imagine the wonders that would exist by 2008, even as they were in the process of working to bring them about.

The Bible prophets, under the inspiration of God, could imagine them, but they couldn’t find the words to describe them.

But Jesus brings it all into perspective, speaking across the ages and addressing us directly, saying;

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

As 2008 dawns, may our God richly bless and keep you all, until He comes.

Maybe this year?

Sixteen Tons

Sixteen Tons
Vol: 75 Issue: 29 Saturday, December 29, 2007

For most people, the New Year’s Anthem of Record is Robert Byrnes’ “Auld Lang Syne”, but for me, it’s the Tennessee Ernie Ford ballad, “Sixteen Tons.”

I love ballads and balladeers and Tennessee Ernie Ford was one of the best. Ballads capture the human experience, and “Sixteen Tons” expresses all the pride and pain, hopelessness and glory of life in a single verse:

“You load sixteen tons, and what do you get? / Another day older and deeper in debt / St Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go / I owe my soul to the company store.”

As I take stock of the old year, I don’t think about old acquaintances being forgot and never brought to mind. I take stock of the sixteen tons that I moved over the past year — did I end up in the plus or minus column?

The balladeer takes stock and concludes that he is so far behind he can’t even afford to die. I often think of that in terms of the spiritual ‘fruits’ borne by the efforts of the past year.

There is an old hymn that reminds me, “Only one life, t’will soon be past / Only what’s done for God will last.”

The Bible, in one respect, is an expression of God’s will for the human race, “declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,” explains the Prophet Isaiah (46:10).

But within the human race is a small group that have been “called out” [elected] by God to be used to accomplish another Divine purpose. (The word ‘church’ is from the Greek ekklesia, meaning, “called out”)

The Bible says that Christians are specifically called to seek out God’s will for our individual lives while we are here and to make ourselves available as servants to that Divine Will.

God’s overarching purpose for the Church Age is to ‘call out’ as many from the lost as possible, promising to extend it as long as is necessary to give the Church time to fulfill its Great Commission.

The Apostle Peter writes, “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.”

In context, Peter is addressing a murmuring within the early Church that expected the Lord to return within their lifetime. That ‘Promise’ to which Peter refers is Jesus’ Promise to the Church:

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:3)

The Apostle Paul explains how He will come again, and how He will receive us unto Himself:

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)

Peter is explaining that the Lord isn’t late (slack) according to His timetable, but instead, is allowing as much time as possible, “not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance.”

God knows exactly who will be saved and who will be lost, and the exact number of those to be ‘called out’ into the ‘elect company’ of saints before God’s timetable forces a close to the Church Age.

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of His Will. . .” (Ephesians 1:5)

But God uses us to accomplish the ‘calling out’ process. That is our ‘sixteen tons’ and until the load is completed, we won’t be called, and we can’t go, so to speak, in the Rapture.

But as each year draws to a close and ‘St Peter’ still hasn’t called, more Christians begin to lose faith in the Promise that the Church Age will close with “the dead in Christ” rising first, followed by “we who are alive and remain” joining Him in the air.

I got three emails in the past two days from readers who begin by saying they once believed in a pre-Trib Rapture, but have since adopted some other view that they insist I accept unconditionally or be immediately labeled a ‘false teacher’.

It is almost as if they were unconsciously fulfilling the prophecy of 2nd Peter 3:3:

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”

My ‘sixteen tons’ isn’t to convince other people of a pre-Trib Rapture. My sixteen tons is to convince the lost that a loving God has made provision for their sin and extends them an offer of Pardon and eternal life through Jesus Christ.

As each year ends and the new one begins, I think about how well I bore my own sixteen tons the year before, and the Promise that the new year holds.

Somebody, somewhere, at some time, (maybe 2008?) will lead that last member of the elect company of called out ones to Christ, that last soul who was foreknown and predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son during the Church Age.

And THEN we can go.

Pakistan’s Archduke Ferdinand

Pakistan’s Archduke Ferdinand
Vol: 75 Issue: 28 Friday, December 28, 2007

Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was addressing a crowd from an open air vehicle in Rawalapindi when she was shot twice — once through the torso with the second, fatal shot entering her neck and damaging her spinal cord before exiting the side of her head.

Seconds after firing the shots, the gunman reportedly detonated a bomb he was wearing, killing at least twenty more people. According to published reports, Bhutto died soon after arriving at the hospital.

Within minutes of the first reports of the assassination, one pundit had already labeled it ‘Pakistan’s JFK’.

Ever notice that, (especially among the countries that hate the US the most) whenever they suffer a tragedy, it’s benchmarked against some similar American tragedy?

Afghanistan was ‘Russia’s Vietnam’, the ’03 Madrid rail station attack was “Spain’s 9/11” . . . and so on?

But about the only similarity between the JFK assassination and the assassination of Benizir Bhutto is that both of them were shot while in a car.

To this day, nobody is sure who killed JFK or why.

But within hours of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, a phone call, allegedly from Mustafa al Yazid, al-Qaeda’s operational commander in Afghanistan, cleared up both who and why.

“We terminated the most precious American asset which vowed to defeat (the) mujahadeen.”

Drawing a link between Bhutto’s assassination and Musharraf is therefore irrelevant — as are any burgeoning conspiracy theories.

Pakistan’s government and military is shot full of al-Qaeda operatives; the operation could be traced to the front door of the presidential palace and Musharraf could still credibly claim ignorance.

Politically, Benazir Bhutto was more Pakistan’s Hillary Clinton than she was Pakistan’s JFK. Bhutto herself had been in exile as the result of a corruption scandal, her father was executed for official corruption.

One of her brothers was mysteriously poisoned on the French Riviera, and another was convicted of hijacking a plane in 1983. He was later killed in a shootout with Pakistani police in 1996.

Benazir Bhutto carried a lot of baggage.

Pakistanis either loved Benazir or they hated her — and the country was pretty much divided down the middle along those lines.

So half of the country blames Musharraf for her death, evidence notwithstanding, and the other half doesn’t much care who killed her as long as she is dead.

There is another, more appropriate historical analogy that fits this scenario better — one that is far more worrisome than JFK.

Assessment:

Benazir Bhutto was part of a Pakistani political dynasty — her father had been prime minister, and she had served twice as PM in the 1990’s.

But the Bhutto’s were not a political dynasty in the sense of the Kennedy’s so much as they were in the sense of European royalty at the turn of the 20th century.

Many of the European royal dynasties of the early 20th century came to a conclusion the same way the Bhutto dynasty did — when the last member of the ruling family was safely dead.

In that sense, Benazir Bhutto’s assassination has more in common with the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on June 28, 1914.

Archduke Ferdinand was riding in an open car when he was mortally wounded by a gunshot to the neck fired by a Bosnian terrorist.

Although the assassin was a member of a Serbian terrorist group known as “The Black Hand,” the Austro-Hungarian Empire held Serbia to blame for the murder.

The various surrounding countries allied themselves with either the Serbian Alliance (the Entente) or the Austro-Hungarian Empire of Franz Ferdinand.

History credits the assassination of Franz Ferdinand of Austria with setting in motion a series of diplomatic events that led, by the end of July, to the outbreak of the First World War.

Frankly, I prefer the Kennedy analogy to that of Archduke Ferdinand, even if it doesn’t fit quite as well.

Back in 1917, neither the Austrians nor the Serbs had nuclear weapons.

“A Mark From God”

“A Mark From God”
Vol: 75 Issue: 27 Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ayman al Zawahiri, really-scary-terrorist-turned al-Qaeda News anchorman, made headlines again last week with his latest proposed video hit, “Ask a Terrorist.”

Zawahiri is exploring his post-al-Qaeda career as a lecturer and journalist, soliciting written questions from reporters over the internet. Zawahiri said he would be taking questions from “individuals, agencies and all media.”

“Anyone who would like to ask him questions must be concise and precise,” media outlets As-Sahab and Al-Fair said in a statement, asking journalists and individuals to submit questions to Al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri via their Web sites by Jan. 16.

Zawahiri would answer questions “as much as he is able and at the soonest possible occasion,” al-Jazeera TV said.

I’d like to ask Zawahiri who does the lighting in his cave. It’s great work.

In fact, the lighting is so good that one can see the little mark on al Zawahiri’s forehead — it looks kinda like what the priest puts on a penitent’s head on Ash Wednesday, like a smudge, or maybe a faded tattoo.

But it isn’t. The mark on the forehead is a mark of piety within Islam, known as the zebibah (Arabic for ‘raisin’)

It is actually a dark callus, sometimes protruding as a bump, created by pressing one’s forehead against a prayer mat five times a day.

Observant Muslims pray five times a day. Each prayer involves kneeling and touching one’s forehead and nose to the ground.

All five prayers require placing one”s head on the ground for a total of 34 times, though many people add prayers and with them, more chances to press their heads to the ground.

“The zebibah is a way to show how important religion is for us,” said Muhammad al-Bikali, a hairstylist in Cairo, in an interview last month quoted by the New York Times.

“It shows how religious we are. It is a mark from God.”

Assessment:

“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” (Revelation 13:16-17)

This passage calls to attention another unique similarity between John’s description of the religious system of the antichrist and the religious system of Islam.

We’ve looked at other unique similarities; Daniel’s description of the antichrist’s use of peace as a weapon and Islam’s use of the ‘hudna’ to the same end, for example.

There is no other major world religion that either preaches conversion by the sword or encourages false treaties to that end as a matter of doctrine. It is a practice unique to Islam.

There is no other world religion that teaches decapitation as an acceptable penalty for blasphemy or conversion to another religion.

Of the world’s three largest religions, that practice is unique to Islam.

The government of antichrist is depicted by John as a marriage of politics of religion into a single, ruling entity.

It is the False Prophet who issues the religious edicts of worship, proscribes penalties, and pronounces penalties.

The political antichrist simply enforces his religious edicts. Not only does that mirror the Islamic model, once again, it is a characteristic unique to Islam among the great religions of the world.

In an Islamic Republic, like Iran, it is the religious leaders — the mullahs and ayatollahs, who call the shots.

The political leaders, like Ahmadinejad, while not powerless in their own right, are still obligated to give religious edicts the full force of law.

And, uniquely, among radical Islamists, there is the zebibah, a mark in the forehead that is a demonstration of piety intended; as explained Muhammed al-Bikali, to “show how religious we are.”

The Bible presents the antichrist as a system that brings politics, religion and finance together under a single banner; as a partnership between the political beast and the False Prophet; and, as a ‘spirit’.

“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1st John 4:3)

The Psalms declare not once, but twice, that the Messiah would be the begotten Son of God.

“I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.'”

“Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalms 2:7,12)

Islam is unique among the world’s three great religions in that it specifically denies both that Jesus was the Messiah and that He was the Son of God — the exact Biblical definition of the ‘spirit of antichrist’.

“Wonderful originator of the heavens and the earth! How could he have a son when he has no consort? And he created everything and he is the knower of all things.” (Sura 6:102)

“They say: Allah has taken a son (to himself). Glory be to him! He is the self-sufficient. His is what is in the heavens and what is in the earth. You have no authority for this. Say you against Allah what you know not?” (Sura 10:68)

Islam denies the Sonship of the Messiah, but at the same time, accepts a different Jesus (Isa) that Islam assigns the role of lesser prophet (after Mohammed).

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.” (2nd Corinthians 11:4)

The Prophet Daniel makes it clear that the political beast will be a prince of a revived Roman Empire, (Daniel 9:27).

And the Apostle John identifies the seat of both the antichrist’s government and religious system will be the City on Seven Hills (Revelation 17:9)

It is mainly from those two points of identification that scholars down through the centuries have identified the headquarters of the False Prophet as the Vatican in Rome.

But that’s where the identification effort starts to break down. The Bible doesn’t describe any religious doctrine or practice resembling that of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Vatican doesn’t decapitate its opponents, deny the Sonship of Jesus Christ, condone terrorism as a path to salvation, or incorporate a visible mark in the forehead as form of religious identification and a testament of personal piety.

There is but one great world religion that meets every single prophesied criteria, from its doctrine and methods to its institutional hatred of Christians and Jews.

The Bible says that hatred will eventually bring all nations together on the plains of Megiddo for one, final battle. This generation can already see the signs of such a battle taking shape somewhere in the not-too-distant future.

As some of the signs grow clearer, other formerly obscure signs take on new significance.

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter,” writes King Solomon. (Proverbs 25:2)

As the time nears, the Big Picture continues to come into focus as more and more pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

I don’t have all the answers yet, but up close, I have to admit that the enemy looks a lot more like Osama bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri than he does the Pope.

I’m not prepared to totally abandon the traditional view, but I am prepared to continue searching out the matter, according to the Scriptures.

Until He comes.

No Hens in the Fox House

No Hens in the Fox House
Vol: 75 Issue: 26 Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Two weeks ago, the FCC approved a highly controversial proposal to change FCC ownership rules to allow broadcasters in the nation’s twenty largest media markets to also own newspapers.

The Chicago-based Tribune Company, for example, owns both the superstation, WGN, and the Chicago Tribune, that city’s main newspaper of record.

(That is in addition to the Los Angeles Times and newspapers in New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Florida.)

For the moment, let’s limit ourselves to Chicago and see how it works.

Suppose, for a moment, there was a big-shot politician who was best friends with the Top Guy at the Tribune Company — or somebody in a position to do big things for, say, Chicago.

The Top Guy lets it be known that he likes Politician So-and-So, and “Bingo!” our politician gets endorsed by half the newspapers in the country. (Based on what is good for just one Top Media Guy or one region.)

Big Media pleaded for changes to the FCC rules, claiming that, thanks to the internet, without allowing greater consolidation, traditional media is on the verge of needing a government bail-out to survive.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin defended the FCC decision, writing in a NYTimes Op-Ed piece:

In many towns and cities, the newspaper is an endangered species. … If we don t act to improve the health of the newspaper industry, we will see newspapers wither and die.

That is a straw-man argument. The internet didn’t cut into the traditional media market, it expanded it exponentially.

Traditional newspapers are primarily ad-supported — the newsstand cost of a paper is about equal to the cost of printing and distributing it. The profit comes from advertising.

And ad revenue is determined by circulation. The greater the circulation, the more a newspaper can charge for an ad.

Thanks to the internet, the latest Chicago Tribune is not only available in Chicago, it is available in Tokyo. The Trib never had it so good.

But we aren’t talking about just the Tribune Company. Ownership of the mainstream media is already concentrated in the hands of just a few executives in a few corporate boardrooms.

Viacom, a media conglomerate controlled by Sumner Redstone, owns CBS, UPN, MTV, Nickelodeon, Showtime,Sundance Channel, VH-1, King World Productions, Infinity Broadcasting and Comedy Central.

Redstone also controls book publishers Simon & Schuster, Scribner’s and MacMillan, a chain of newspapers and magazines and five theme parks.

GE owns NBC’s media empire, Disney owns ABC, and pretty much everything you see that wasn’t filtered through those boardrooms were filtered through boards at AOL/TIME/Warner/CNN.

Or Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Assessment:

Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. ~ Thomas Jefferson

The Founding Fathers ensured the government could not control the media to prevent the media from becoming an arm of government propaganda.

But where there is a will, there’s a way. Nobody can control thousands of independent newspaper publishers, but controlling the handful of men who control the media is a much simpler task.

Take the former ‘upstart’ Fox News Channel, for example.

For the Christmas edition of ‘Special Report with Brit Hume” was a puff piece about some Saudi sheik and his clan that love America.

(They must love America, because the sheik said so at least six times in the story.)

However, cautions Fox, Saudi love for America is ‘strained’ because of US support for Israel.

And many Saudis, the piece informs us, resent the implication that just because the majority of 9/11 hijackers were Saudi, Saudis don’t feel comfortable in America.

(Although the sheik, Fox reminds us, still sends HIS sons to America for their higher education.)

Wait a second? Is this the Fox News that was catapulted to the Number One spot in cable news after its ‘take-no-prisoners’ coverage of 9/11?

The same Fox News that demanded an investigation into US-Saudi ties, whose anchors prominently wore US flag lapel pins and who produced documentaries warning of the dangers of Saudi-inspired jihadist fundamentalist Islam?

Thanks to Fox News’ uncompromisingly pro-American stand, their tag line, “Fair and Balanced” has a ring of authenticity to its American audience. Particularly among American conservatives.

So why the pro-Saudi puff piece — and why on Christmas Day, for heaven’s sake? CNN maybe, but Fox News?

Fox has been quietly shifting its programming in recent months — one doesn’t see Stephen Schwartz discussing Islamofacism on Fox News anymore.

Or Steve Emerson discussing the rising tide of Islamic jihadism in Western culture.

Or Daniel Pipes explaining the nuances of deception and its role in Islamic culture.

The programming shift came at the same time that Saudi Prince Alwaled bin Talal bought a major bloc of voting stock in News Corp, which is the parent company of Fox News.

Saudi Prince Alwaled bin Talal already bought a 3% share in NewsCorp in 2005 — and he upped it last month to almost six percent. With that purchase, he became NewsCorp’s second largest-shareholder.

But does his ownership stake in Fox really affect how Fox covers the news?

Well. . . . you tell me.

During the Paris riots in 2005, the Fox News crawl below the story at first labeled it the “Muslim riots.” A WND report the time explained what Prince Alwaled bin Talal did when he saw the Fox News report:

“I picked up the phone and called Murdoch … [and told him] these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty, WND quoted al-Walid as saying.

And his phone call got fast results; Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots.

The year after the 9/11 attacks, the same Prince bin Talal donated $27 million to a Saudi telethon raising money for the families of suicide bombers.

He is a major donor to the Council on Islamic American Relations (CAIR) donating a half-million dollars to be used towards the distribution and propagation of a set of Islamist books for American libraries.

The set included Jamal Badawi s Gender Equity in Islam, which sanctions the beating of women by their husbands, and a version of the Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali s “The Meaning of THE HOLY QURAN”.

(That book has even been banned by the Los Angeles school system!)

Since Prince bin-Talal’s acquisition of NewsCorp, when Fox News needs an expert to explain the nuances of religion, Islamic or otherwise, it brings in somebody from the ostensibly ‘non-sectarian’ website, Beliefnet.

(The editor of Beliefnet-Islam is Dilshad Ali. Besides being affiliated with Beliefnet, Ali is also a correspondent for Islam Online.)

According to the Bible, in the last days, the antichrist will control everything we see, hear and do. He orders the death of the two Witnesses to be broadcast globally;

“And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half.” (Revelation 11:9)

The doctrine of the False Prophet reaches into every home. “[P]ower was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. . .” (Revelation 13:7)

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” (2nd Thessalonians 2:11)

In 1950, some 1,300 American newspapers — almost all of them — were independently and locally owned and operated.

Prior to this month’s FCC ruling, that number was already down fewer than 300.

In the end, there will only be five major media outlets remaining.

Of them, four are already controlled by anti-American internationalists and the US Far Left.

And one by terrorist-supporting Prince Alwaled bin Talal of Saudi Arabia.

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Note:

I pray each of you had a Merry Christmas with family and friends. Our big family Christmas gathering is today. (I can hardly wait!)

May our God richly bless each of you throughout this Christmas Week, and into the coming New Year.

It is sure promising to be an interesting one!

Marantha!

Christmas Reflections

Christmas Reflections
Vol: 75 Issue: 25 Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Covenant Life Church has proved so successful in harvesting souls for Jesus Christ that it spawned a mini-denomination, Sovereign Grace Ministries. It counts 52 affiliated churches in 17 states plus Great Britain, Bolivia, Mexico and Canada, and supports start-up churches in Ethiopia and Uganda.

C. J. Mahaney leads what he terms a “reformed charismatic” movement, with the emphasis on “reformed,” which some view as radical by modern evangelical Christian standards.

Covenant Life Church, or CLC as members call it, has a $5 million operating budget, a capacious new $22-million building expansion, a 50-member staff and a 280-student private school.

With no formal college or seminary education, Mr. Mahaney, 49, has written or edited five books and oversees a training center for pastors that has graduated 73 men in six years.

The previous few paragraphs were taken verbatim from a Washington Times story entitled, “Keeping their eyes on the cross”.

It goes on to describe the thousands of believers that came to Christ as a consequence of Mahaney’s growing ministry and the efforts of the Covenant Life Church to spread the Gospel in remote parts of the earth — the stuff churches are supposed to do, but seldom get around to.

As I was reading through the piece, I came to the part where Mahaney was giving his salvation testimony. “The son of a Takoma Park sheet metal worker and the third of five children in a Roman Catholic home, Charles Joseph Mahaney rejected God at age 12 in favor of sports and, later, the drug culture. His sojourn at Springbrook High School in Silver Spring was not promising.

“My SAT score was so low I didn’t even qualify for the University of Maryland, the state where I was born, raised and lived all my life,” Mr. Mahaney recalled in a sermon last spring. “I took my SATs while on LSD.”

He was born again, he says, the same night that a newly converted friend shared his faith rather than sharing a hash pipe.

He says God used a newspaper ad to lead him to a prayer meeting of young converts called Take and Give, or TAG. By 1974, at age 20, he was alternating teaching assignments with Larry Tomczak, 24, an intern with the AFL-CIO.

Other than the Bible, the only Christian book the long-haired Mr. Mahaney had read was Hal Lindsey’s apocalyptic bestseller “Late Great Planet Earth.” “

Assessment:

It is at Christmas time that I take the time to contemplate my blessings. I am a big fan of Christmas — it is my favorite time of year.

(I know all about the history of Christmas as a holiday, its origins and its many deficiencies as a spiritual holiday. But as a cultural holiday, it’s still my favorite)

At Christmas, all my kids come over, with all their kids and we all get to be kids together for one whole day. At Christmas time, I am surrounded by — and particularly reflective of — the many blessings God has granted me.

At Christmastime, I honor the Lord’s birth by reflecting on the Gift of eternal life that He gave me. The process began with His birth, regardless of what the actual day was.

I reflect back to the day of my salvation and sit awestruck as I watch the redemptive process take place all over again in my mind.

I know, better than any other human being, what I was saved FROM and how miraculous in nature my spiritual transformation was.

Like Pastor Mahaney of Covenant Life, I had read only two Christian books before I got saved back in 1975.

The Bible and The Late, Great, Planet Earth.

Merry Christmas!

This column is a reprint of a column first published Christmas, 2002

Special Report: “God Bless Us, Every One”

Special Report: “God Bless Us, Every One”
Vol: 75 Issue: 24 Monday, December 24, 2007

I admit that, when it comes to ‘religion’ I am a pretty informal kind of guy. That is to say, I don’t give much credence to religiosity, unless it has some concrete Biblical foundation to stand on.

That said, I see this whole Christmas controversy as a trap, but it is really a trap set for Christians — and one they willingly charge into.

In the first place, there is zero Scriptural support for either celebrating the Lord s birthday or birthdays in general. Birthday celebrations are a Western cultural thing inserted into Christianity by the Roman emperor Constantine and his successors.

Many Christians who refuse to celebrate Christmas rightly point out that Christmas, as we celebrate it in America, is a largely British cultural transfer. All it s traditions and trappings are of pagan origin.

As a Christian feast day, December 25th has no Scriptural date, no Scriptural season, no Scriptural mandate, and no Scriptural support of any description.

There is no more Bible support for celebrating Christmas than there is for celebrating Labor Day.

It was an arbitrarily selected date on a calendar for what were then-political purposes. But since it isn’t really the Lord’s Birthday, why shouldn t Christians celebrate along with unbelievers?

And since Christmas Day is a Western cultural holiday with zero Bible to back it up, but only the declaration of some long-dead Pope that it denotes the Birth of Christ, why should Christians be forbidden to enjoy the traditional celebration?

Paul was anticipating exactly this kind of disagreement within the Body of Christ when he wrote;

One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:5-6)

If a Christian wants to set aside December 25th as the Lord’s Birthday, the Bible says that day is given to the Lord. If not, then, not.

Christmas isn t like Easter. The Vatican didn t set the date for Easter, God Himself did — and He preserved its exact date down through the centuries through the Hebrew calendar.

The Lord Himself commanded us to commemorate His death and Resurrection through the Lord s Supper.

The Pope invented both the date and the proscribed celebration method of the Birth of Christ. Charles Dickens refined the Pope s idea and America s view of Christmas is more reflected by Ebenezer Scrooge than the Birth of Christ.

If there were a shred of Scriptural support for celebrating the Birth of Christ on a particular day or even Scriptural support for celebrating it on one day above others then I would agree that the Church should restore it to its original meaning.

But December 25 has no original meaning — beyond that assigned it arbitrarily sometime in the fourth century as a cultural celebration timed to coincide with the Roman feast of Saturnalia.

Therefore, Christmas Day is a cultural celebration adopted from a variety of religious traditions, and only loosely based on an actual historical event.

Assigning it religious significance finds no support in Scripture, although it does serve once per year to remind the world of the arrival of the “Joy to the World” — the historical physical birth of Jesus Christ as God Incarnate.

In my household, it is a special day — and we solemnly retell the Christmas story as part of our family tradition.

But it is by His Death and Resurrection that we are saved. His Birth is but the beginning of the narrative that leads to that ultimate Truth.

All the Jewish feast days are prescribed in the Old Testament, including details like the proper date on which to commemorate the event.

The exact day on which Easter Sunday falls is based in Scripture and is the only Christian feast day preserved through the centuries — relative to the Feast of the Passover.

If Christmas had its roots in Scripture, we d know what day to celebrate it on, too. Since it doesn t, there are no Christian rules, other than cultural ones, concerning its celebration.

Those rules concerning Christmas that appear to be Christian were added by the Vatican centuries, four hundred years after the fact, by human religious decree.

So I celebrate Christmas the way my culture celebrates it, the same as I do the 4th of July or Labor Day. I enjoy all the traditional trappings I grew up with.

But I keep in mind that it is a Western, cultural celebration that predates Christianity and one that simply co-opted the Birth of Jesus instead of Saturnalia as the reason for the season.

It is a day, and Paul said that esteeming a day or not esteeming a day was irrelevant to the day itself.

As to how to commemorate it, Paul said, Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.

I esteem Christmas as a cultural acknowledgment of the Birth of my Savior, but I don t raise its observance to the level of Scriptural obedience.

Whether or not Jesus is the reason for the season for somebody else is irrelevant.

He is for me, but for me, He is the reason for everything, not just Christmas. Even the word ‘history’ means “His Story.”

So, no matter how (or if) you choose to celebrate, I pray that you all have a wonderful, Spirit-filled and joyous Christmas, with family and friends and kids and fun.

And may God bless us, every one.