”The Horse Doesn’t Eat Cucumber Salad”

”The Horse Doesn’t Eat Cucumber Salad”
Vol: 120 Issue: 22 Thursday, September 22, 2011

Nobody knows who invented the first postal system – it was probably the same guy who inventing writing: “Hey! I just invented writing.  Come on over and I’ll tell you what this letter says!” The first postman was probably that guy’s slave.

Early postal systems were developed by Hammurabi, Sargon II, King Cyrus the Great and Darius of Persia.  But they weren’t designed to deliver mail so much as they were designed to gather intelligence.

(But that was before postal unions.  Since then, all intelligence has been banned from the postal service. For example, to address public complaints about slow service inside post offices, the USPS removed all the clocks.)  

Until the invention of the telephone, the postal service represented the only option for communication across long distances.  A person in New York might write a letter to a person in San Francisco and might receive a reply in less than two months.  

In 1860 Johan Phillip Reis produced a device that could transmit musical notes and on some occasions, intelligible speech.  The Reis transmitter was difficult to operate, but since it could transmit human voices over distances, it could be called a “telephone” – even if nobody could use it except Reis.

Later, Thomas Edison tested the Reis equipment and found it capable of transmitting human speech, including “the inflections of the voice, the modulations of interrogation, wonder, command, etc.” 

Alexander Graham Bell is credited with having invented the telephone in 1876, but it was actually invented much earlier, in 1832, by an Italian inventor named Antonio Meucci.

Meucci patented his teletofono in 1871, but, Meucci, who frequently lived on public assistance, did not renew it after 1874 because he was short ten bucks.

Indeed, in 2002 the US House of Representatives passed a resolution that recognized Meucci’s pioneering work on the telephone, saying;

“if Meucci had been able to pay the $10 fee to maintain the caveat after 1874, no patent could have been issued to Bell.”

But since Meucci didn’t renew, Canadian Alexander Graham Bell was first to get to the patent office with his own telephone invention, barely beating Chicago inventor Elisha Gray, who tried to patent his telephone device on the very same day.

Which in retrospect, I think, may have been a good thing.  Somehow, “Gray Telephone” doesn’t have the same ring to it as does “Bell Telephone” – it sounds like a telephone service for spies.

And “Meucci Teletefono” — it just doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue. (In fact, it tends to make it hurt).

History tells us that the first words ever spoken over a telephone were uttered by Alexander Graham Bell; “Watson, come here! I want to see you!”  That is sort of true. 

They were the first words ever spoken in English over a telephone.

In reality, Johann Reis was the first person to ever transmit human speech over the airwaves via an electronic device, sixteen years before Bell used his to phone Watson.

Maybe if Reis were calling someone to do something useful, like ‘come here’ or “pick up a loaf of bread and two quarts of milk” then Johann Reis might be history’s Alexander Graham Bell.

That could have changed history.  When Bell Telephone’s monopoly was broken up into regional phone companies, they were immediately nicknamed “Baby Bells.”

If Reis had been the official inventor of the telephone, then the breakup into regional phone companies would probably have been nicknamed, “Reis’s Pieces” — and then how could ET phone home? 

In any event, it was Johann Reis, not Alexander Graham Bell, who uttered the immortal words that made up the first sentence ever transmitted by telephone:

Das Pferd frisst keinen Gurkensalat.”

It means, “The horse doesn’t eat cucumber salad.”

Assessment:

In summary, then, the history of communications goes like this.  First, somebody invented writing.  Then he wrote a message and sent it via somebody else, thereby inventing the postal service. 

But by 1860, so many people were trying to feed cucumber salads to their horses that it necessitated the invention of the telephone.

One can instantly see the advantages of a telephone over the Pony Express.  Once they stopped feeding their horses cucumber salads, the Pony Express could get a message across the country in a matter of weeks. 

With the advent of the telephone, the same message could be transmitted instantly.

(“Das Pferd frisst keinen Gurkensalat.”  It DOESN’T? Gee, thanks.) 

But telephones were bulky, expensive gizmos tied to telephone poles by wires on one end and bolted to the wall of your house on the other.  In 1973, Dr. Martin Cooper of Motorola figured out a way to transmit telephone service over a radio link, creating the first mobile phone. 

In 1983, the first commercially available cellular phones were hard-wired into vehicles.  By 1990, there were 12.4 million cell phones worldwide.  By 2010, there were 4.6 billion mobile phones — at which point we stopped talking on them.   

The first text message was sent from a computer to a mobile phone in December 1992. The message, “Merry Christmas” unintentionally threw human civilization back to the days when horses ate cucumber salads.

We have gone from the invention of writing to the invention of mail to the invention of the telephone to the invention of the mobile communications device that we use to write letters instead of talking. And according to a recent study conducted by Pew Research Group, that’s the way we like it.

According to Pew, some 83% of Americans own cell phones and three fourths of them send and receive text messages on their phones.  Of those that use texting, the majority would prefer sending or receiving a text to making or receiving a phone call.

Text users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day and more than half of them would rather you texted instead of phoning them.  Those that don’t text make or receive an average of twelve phone calls per day.

I enjoy the irony of having come full circle from the invention of writing as a method of communication five thousand years ago, to the rediscovery of writing as a preferred means of communication by the most technologically advanced among us.

Having discovered texting only recently, I am surprised to discover that I concur with the majority – I would rather receive a text that I can read at my leisure and reply to only if necessary to having to subordinate all my other activities to answering the telephone.

What does it all mean?  I am not entirely sure when it comes to humans.  But thanks to the advances of technology, entire generations of horses have never experienced the delights of a cucumber salad.   

Note: I intended to talk about Barack Obama’s address to the United Nations yesterday in today’s OL.  But today’s topic seemed to be just about as relevant and lot more entertaining.

Many Are Called . . .

Many Are Called . . .
Vol: 120 Issue: 21 Wednesday, September 21, 2011

When we were at the Yardinet site in Israel on the Glenn Beck “Standing with Israel Tour” our tour guide was apologetic; “if we had a pastor here, then some of you could be baptized in the Jordan River.”

Since nobody else raised their hands, I volunteered.  It would be a tragedy to go all the way to Israel and not have the option of being baptized in the Jordan River.  Later on the tour, one evening while we were in Jerusalem, one of my fellow bus passengers asked me what my ministerial background was.

Since I was trained and discipled by Hal Lindsey for seven years before being ordained by Hal Lindsey’s church,  if one doesn’t know who Hal Lindsey is (she didn’t) it becomes difficult to explain — without sounding like I was ordained by the Universal Life Church and Tire Emporium of Walla Walla Washington.

I am not a pastor in the sense of a bricks-and-mortar church, but I am a preacher and an ordained minister of the Gospel and authorized according to the Scriptures to baptize in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  

My ordination certificate titles me “Reverend” but if one wanted to split hairs, my actual office, according to the Scripture, is that of “evangelist” — like Phillip, who baptized the eunuch in the Jordan River in Acts 8:26-38.

According to Scripture, an evangelist is but one of a handful of Divinely-ordained church offices: 

“And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers. . .” 

The Apostle Paul also gives the job description and goal of an evangelist: 

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Paul charged Timothy with the job of ‘doing the work of an evangelist’ which included, “enduring afflictions” and being a watchman on the wall. 

“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” (2nd Timothy 4:5)

D.T. Niles, who dedicated his life to doing the work of an evangelist in Sri Lanka, provided this beautiful word picture of what the work of a Christian evangelist REALLY is. 

Back in 1986 in an interview with the New York Times (of all places); Niles defined it as, “one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.”  That’s a perfect description.

The word “evangelist” is taken from two Greek words, “eu (good) angelos” (messenger) – (euaggelizo) meaning, messenger of good news.  And there is no better news than that Jesus Christ paid the full penalty for all sins for all mankind at the Cross. 

My calling is that of an evangelist, but my mission is not so much to the lost as it is to the saved.  My mission is aimed at the “perfecting (training) of the saints for the work of the ministry.” 

In that sense, my mission is to train you for that work in your own, day-to-day evangelistic ministry. 

I am just one man, so I can only be at one place at one time, and can only reach out to a handful of people at any given moment.  You, on the other hand, are everywhere at once. 

You are in Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, South Africa, Melbourne, Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, Vancouver, Canada, and Lagos, Nigeria. Your reach far exceeds my grasp.

Everywhere you go, people are asking the question, “What is this world coming to?”

My job is to ensure you are “ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15)

Assessment:

The Omega Letter was founded ten years ago this October 14 for the purpose of providing the answer to that question.

Each human being owes his own sin debt, and because of that debt, he cannot pay the sin debt for another. God’s plan for the redemption of mankind is therefore perfect and completely logical. 

The Lord Himself stepped out of eternity into space and time, took on the form of sinful man, lived the life God requires of each of us, and, having no sin debt of His own, was qualified to pay the sin debt for all mankind. 

His death was excruciating, long and painful.  Crucifixion was reserved by the Romans for only the most heinous crimes, and was considered so shameful that it could not be imposed on a Roman citizen. 

It was a snapshot of how God views sin. 

Through His manner of execution, Jesus was temporarily stripped of His heavenly citizenship, literally separated from God, becoming the embodiment of sin on our behalf. 

From the Cross, Jesus looked up and cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34

Of course, as God-man in the flesh, Jesus knew why, but by His Words, He conveyed to us the full measure of His sacrifice on our behalf.  We are all separated from God by our sin. 

To pay our sin debt, Jesus was also, for the first and last time in eternity past, present and future, separated from the Godhead as a sacrifice for our sin. 

On the Cross, He was literally forsaken by the Father.

For the space of three hours, He was sin incarnate, alone and comfortless, as your sin and mine was heaped upon Him. 

Matthew says that during those three hours, there was “darkness over all the land” as the sins of the world were charged to His account. 

Allow yourself to think about that for a second.  See if you can get your head around the concept.  Try to imagine the scene. 

Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, in His moment of supreme agony, looked to the Father, only to see that GOD HAD TURNED HIS BACK ON HIM! 

For three agonizing hours, Jesus hung, alone and forsaken, temporarily stripped of His Heavenly citizenship as an offering for sin in which God Incarnate became sin incarnate. 

Jesus suffered the agonies of sin on our behalf, before declaring, “It is finished.” John says at that moment, “He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30)

The word group translated, “It is finished” was “Tetelestai.”  Like all words, it had both a specific meaning and a conventional application.  It meant, ‘paid in full.’ 

It was the word that was written on a slave’s manumission papers.  When a slave was freed by his master, he carried a document bearing the phrase ‘telestai‘ which indicated his indentured status was forever remitted, and he was henceforth and forever a free man. 

When a debtor finally paid off his debt, he received back his original loan agreement with the word ‘tetelestai’ printed at the bottom, meaning ‘paid in full.’  It was a quit claim that signified a lender no longer had a lien on the property put up as collateral. 

Jesus didn’t pay your debt for sin up to the moment of salvation.  He paid your sin debt in its entirety. 

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for ALL. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God . . . For by One offering He hath perfected FOREVER them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-12,14)

THAT is the “euaggelizo” — the message of good news that each of us carries.  That is the good news that was given for the ‘perfection of the saints for the work of the ministry.’ 

Each of us is an ‘evangelist’ in his or her own right.  Each of us is REQUIRED to carry that message to the lost.  Each of us is REQUIRED to be ‘ready to give the reason for the hope that is in you.’

Some of us are called to teach it, others are called to share it.  Many are called, but few are chosen, Scripture says.  You are among the chosen, or you wouldn’t be OL members. 

According to Scripture, there are a finite number of believers who will accept the Gospel. (Romans 8:29

It isn’t that God has condemned others to a Christ-less eternity.  It is simply that God, in His foreknowledge, already knows who will accept salvation and who will reject it.  But everybody must have a chance. 

To reject it, one must hear it.  That is God’s plan.  The work of the ministry can be boiled down into a single phrase; “Each one, tell one.” 

“And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and THEN shall the end come.” (Matthew 24:14)

That’s our job.  To be a witness unto all nations.  And THEN shall the end come.  

Maranatha!

Panem et Circenses

Panem et Circenses
Vol: 120 Issue: 20 Tuesday, September 20, 2011

“Once monkeys learn they can vote themselves bananas, they’ll never climb another tree.” Robert A Heinlein

There was a post on the Omegaletter Community Facebook page this morning asking, “Will America exist in the end times?”  

In a manner of speaking, it no longer exists now.  The America that exists today isn’t the robust America I grew up in during the post-war Golden Age.

The America of today used to only exist in movies about the future depicting America as a crumbling or collapsed dictatorship, usually symbolized by a partially destroyed Statue of Liberty.

In the real world, the symbol is the absence of the Twin Towers.  A more appropriate, albeit less spectacular symbol of America’s slide toward irrelevancy would be the United Nations complex on the East River.

Today, the Palestinian Authority thumbed its nose at the United States as Mahmoud Abbas moved forward with plans to gain full UN membership for his Palestinian Authority, despite the opposition of the Palestinian majority parliamentary government. 

Of course, Abbas actually isn’t the president of the Palestinian Authority.  His term expired in January 2009.  But new elections might result in another electoral victory for Hamas – (did I mention that Hamas is the ruling majority in the PA parliament?)

And so Abbas simply canceled the elections, flouting the PA’s ‘constitution’, and refused to step down.  PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, (and leader of Hamas) condemned Abbas’ statehood efforts because Hamas refuses to recognize Israel and continues to demand her destruction.

Hamas official Kalil al Haya was quoted in Israeli papers saying that any recognition of Palestine should be of the entire country, not the 1967 borders.

“Recognition should be sought for the entirety of the Palestinian territory, and the Palestinian right to live within this country’s borders acknowledged. We ask the UN to annul the entity that decided to settle on the land of others.”

(Did I mention that Haniyeh’s term – and the terms of the whole Palestinian parliament – also expired in 2009? Hamas canceled elections because they already had a majority and they liked it that way.)

So Abbas is demanding statehood for a ‘Palestinian people’  –a “people” without an individual nationality, language, culture, history or a legal government – half of whom both oppose statehood and embrace terrorism.

Nabil Shaath, senior aide to Abbas, told The Associated Press that the Palestinian leader informed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during their meeting Monday that he would present him with a letter requesting full membership on Friday, ahead of Abbas’ speech to the General Assembly.

Any candidate for U.N. membership must submit a letter to the secretary-general stating it is a “peace-loving” state and accepts the U.N. Charter. Ban is expected to examine the Palestinian letter and then send it to the 15-member U.N. Security Council, which must give its approval before a vote in the larger General Assembly.

Ishtayeh said the letter will state: “Palestine is a peace-loving state and has contributed to human civilization that it has succeeded in building state institutions.” It would also cite the need to consider the pre-1967 Mideast War borders as those of the Palestinian state, he said.

That bit about a peace-loving state would be hysterically funny — if it weren’t so sad.

While the UN is considering the merits of Palestine as a “peace-loving state” ruled by an international terrorist organization whose contributions to human civilization included the introduction of airline hijacking as a tool of terrorism and the 1972 Olympic Munich Massacre, the unilateral effort abrogates the Oslo Agreement.

The terms of Oslo forbid either side from unilaterally altering the status of the West Bank, Gaza or Jerusalem until after final status negotiations have been concluded and signed off on by both sides. 

The Europeans also signed the agreement at the White House as witnesses.  If the EU or its member states vote in favor of changing the status of these areas, they will be invalidating their own contract.

The Quartet – the EU, US, UN and Russia – are also divided over the issue, with Russia favoring statehood for the Palestinians.

The US can veto full statehood through the Security Council, and has promised to do so.  But in an effort at face-saving, has hinted it will support an upgrade in status from an “entity” to “a non-member state” in the General Assembly.

A ‘state’ without a legal government whose only viable state institution is terrorism.

Assessment:

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

Historians are fond of referring to the twentieth century as “The American Century” because it was during the early part of the last century that America became a superpower, ending that century as the world’s only superpower.  Full circle.  

It was at the mid-point of the last century – May 15, 1948 to be exact – that Bible prophecy indicated the clock had begun the countdown to the return of Jesus Christ.  The time frame was one generation.

But the Bible also says that while no man could know the day or the hour, we could know when it was “near, even at the doors.”  That is about where we are today.  “Near, even at the doors.” 

Israel has also come full circle, from winning its independence and UN recognition in 1948, (starting the countdown), to being forced to defend its very right to exist before the assembled world body, as it considers taking Jerusalem from the Jews and recognizing it as part of a (terrorist) Palestinian state.

“All that burden themselves with Jerusalem shall be cut in pieces,” the prophet said.

Although America remains the most powerful, the most wealthy, the most blessed of all the nations on earth, there is no mention of America or American influence in Bible prophecy.

Ten years into the twenty-first century, America remains the world’s only superpower, but so bled and bloodied by a rag-tag bunch of sixth-century cavemen that its national supremacy hangs by a thread. 

American influence is so diluted that its only recourse to prevent the granting of Palestinian statehood is to veto the votes of the rest of the world.

The veto is powerful, but there is a price to be paid for standing alone  – and the country is getting tired of paying it.  

The nations of the Middle East play a role in the last days.  So does Russia, China, North Africa, Europe and Asia. The Bible identifies four spheres of power in the last days.

They are; the revived Roman Empire, the Kings of the South, the Kings of the East and the Gog-Magog Alliance.  There is no mention of a fifth, overarching superpower to the west resembling America.

Where is America in prophecy?  There are a couple of possible explanations.  The first is the Rapture, which is my personal favorite.

But that’s because of the second possibility, which is that America, as a nation, is no longer of any consequence to global events in the last days — for other reasons.

As the world teeters on the brink of economic collapse, the Middle East teeters on the brink of war, and the UN teeters on the brink of insane by accepting, straight-faced, a letter calling Palestine a “peace-loving state,” Obama’s plan to save America is to raise three dollars in taxes for every one dollar reduction in entitlement spending.  

The Roman Empire, at its zenith, was a Republic.  As it degenerated into mobocracy where majority rule superceded the principles of the Republic, the empire began to wane in influence, grew weaker as citizens voted their personal self-interest rather than what benefitted the Republic, and the Roman Empire collapsed in chaos.

Panem et circenses, wrote the Roman poet, Juvenal, to describe the decline of the Roman Empire.  Bread and circuses. 

Last night, Sonny and Cher’s daughter, Chastity Bono, appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” — as a man.  Nobody really cared. (If anybody did, they kept quiet to save being shouted down as a bigot.)

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth.

Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” (Revelation 3:15-18)

Where is America in Bible Prophecy?  Worshipping at the Church of Laodicea.  Laos, meaning “people” and dike meaning, “decision” — or the “Church Where the People Decide”.  

The Lukewarm Church of the wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 

How To Save The Economy

How To Save The Economy
Vol: 120 Issue: 19 Monday, September 19, 2011

President Obama said at a fundraiser at a private residence last week that his “American Jobs Act” that he wants Congress to pass without reading, “right away” will create 1.9 million American jobs.

“It’s estimated that the American Jobs Act would add two percentage points to the GDP, and add as many as 1.9 million jobs, and bring the unemployment rate down by a full percentage point,” Obama said, according to the official White House transcript of his remarks.

Wow. Is that a lot of jobs, or what?  Actually, it must be ‘what’, cause it isn’t a lot of jobs.  Not for the money they are costing. 

The White House wants to spend $447 billion to ‘create’ these jobs.  So how much is $447 billion divided by 1.9 million?  That will tell us how much it costs to create one job under the plan. 

I’m getting out my calculator . . . ok, ummm, no, wait!  That can’t be right. . .   Let me do it again.  Just a second, and. . . WOW!  I guess that is right.  You can put 1.9 million into $447 billion 235,263 times. 

So, that’s the Obama Plan.  Spend $235,263 (almost a quarter million dollars) per job

Let’s say you get one of these jobs.  And let’s say that each of those new jobs pays what amounts to the average income for the bottom 90% of all workers, excluding the rich and super-rich, since most of us are not part of that top ten percent.

So what is the average annual salary for a typical American worker?  According to a study by UC Berkeley, the average American job, (excluding the richest ten percent), pays $31,244.00 per year. 

So under the Obama plan, the government will spend $235,263.00 to create a job that will pay you six hundred bucks a week.  That’s the plan. 

At that rate, it would take seven and a half years before your earnings equaled what it cost to create that job. The government hopes to tax those jobs, so just for fun, let’s say the government planned to tax those jobs at the highest existing tax rate of 38%. 

For every six hundred bucks you earn, the government will claw back $228 in taxes.  So, at $228 per week, how long will it take for you to pay back the initial outlay of $235,263.00 in taxpayer money that created your job? 

Say, if you started “right now” — before anybody reads the bill?  The $235,263.00 the government invested in your job will break even in just under twenty years.  

Assuming all goes well and you don’t get a job at a place like, say, Solyndra where $535 million created 1100 jobs that only lasted for three years. (That averages out to $486,363.00 per job). 

The rule of thumb for hiring is that the worker you hire generates more income for your company than it costs to hire him.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t hire him.  It only sounds cruel if you are the guy not getting hired.  If you are the guy writing the paycheck, it only makes sense.

I am trying to imagine a private sector business scenario in which somebody like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates or some other multi-billionaire invested nearly a half million dollars for each job created.  

Give an entrepreneur a half million dollars and he’ll start a company and hire five workers.

But give Barack Obama $38.6 billion in loan guarantees earmarked for green jobs subsidies, and he’ll hire 3,485 new permanent jobs at a cost of $4,850,000.00 per job.

Not to worry, however.  Obama plans to pay for it by adding $1.5 trillion in new taxes.

Assessment:

“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:6)

Obama has other plans for raising enough money to throw away on his various economic central planning schemes.  One idea being floated is to cut the benefits of federal retirees. 

Not unionized federal retirees – that would bring down the wrath of the unions on Obama.  Instead, Obama wants to go after military retirees.  What are they gonna do?  Quit?  

Here’s how the New York Times explains it. 

Under the current rules, service members who retire after 20 years are eligible for pensions that pay half their salaries for life, indexed for inflation, even if they leave at age 38.

They are also eligible for lifetime health insurance through the military’s system, Tricare, at a small fraction of the cost of private insurance, prompting many working veterans to shun employer health plans in favor of military insurance.

Advocates of revamping the systems argue that they are not just fiscally untenable but also unfair.

So the military has it too good — if one is committed enough to one’s country to serve the full twenty years.  If one simply joins the military to learn a trade and develop skills they can use in civilian life,  well, what about their retirement benefits?  They don’t get anything – the retirees are hogging it all!

Those critics also argue that under the current rules, 83 percent of former service members receive no pension payments at all — because only veterans with 20 years of service are eligible. Those with 5 or even 15 years are not, even if they did multiple combat tours. Such a structure would be illegal in the private sector, and a company that tried it could be penalized, experts say.

“It cries out for some rationalization,” said Sylvester J. Schieber, a former chairman of the Social Security Advisory Board. “Why should we ask somebody to sustain a system that’s unfair by any other measure in our society?”

Indeed!  We should remedy this imbalance right away!  So . . . let’s cut benefits for retirees.  It will save money now, by breaking faith with those who have already dedicated their lives to military service, and it will save money later, by discouraging anyone from staying in long enough to collect pension benefits.

A wild-card factor in the debate is the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, which some experts say could avoid the stigma of cutting benefits while troops are at war.

Absolutely!  We wouldn’t want to stigmatize the politicians that favor rewarding a lifetime of honorable military service by reducing their retirement benefits!  So this is the PERFECT time to, ahem, screw those military veterans who didn’t have the decency to die in combat.

“The fact that you are getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan does make it easier,” said Lawrence J. Korb, a senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration who was a co-author of a recent proposal for reducing the cost of military health care. “When the war in Iraq was in terrible shape, it was hard to get people to join the military, and no one wanted to touch any military benefits.”

“By far the most contentious proposal circulating in Washington is from a Pentagon advisory panel, the Defense Business Board. It would make the military pension system, a defined benefit plan, more like a 401(k) plan under which the Pentagon would make contributions to a service member’s individual account; contributions by the troops themselves would be optional.”

Defenders of the plan to cut retiree benefits argue that the rising cost of retirees will affect the ability of active-duty personnel to do their duty. 

“If the trend continues, it will call into question the military’s ability to do other things, like buy equipment, do maintenance, train troops and equip them,” said Nora Bensahel, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, a nonprofit organization with ties to the Obama administration.

“At some point, the cost pressures by the retirement benefits will really start to impede military capabilities.”

I think I can nail down exactly where that point might be.  It might come at the point hardly anybody will join the military unless they get drafted.  I remember those days. 

In 1969 I was a private making $118.10 per month when one of my drill instructors, (who was nineteen years old and had been in the Marine Corps less than two years), was promoted to Staff Sergeant — because most of the older, more experienced guys got out as soon as their military obligation was completed.

So, as near as I can tell, here is how Obama plans to save the economy between now and November 2012.

First, we surrender to al-Qaeda and the Taliban and turn over Iraq and Afghanistan to them.  Then, we rip off military retirees.  

Finally, we take the money we’ve saved by surrendering to al-Qaeda, gutting the military and ripping off retirees and we give it to the Democrats so they can create a bunch of million-dollar jobs that pay thirty grand a year.

What?  You don’t think it will work?  

What is WRONG With These People?

What is WRONG With These People?
Vol: 120 Issue: 17 Saturday, September 17, 2011

“Now, I know that over the last couple of months, there have been Democrats who voiced concerns and nervousness about, well, in this kind of economy, isn’t this just – aren’t these just huge headwinds in terms of your reelection? Here’s one thing I know for certain: The odds of me being reelected are much higher than the odds of me being elected in the first place.” — Barack Hussein Obama, September 15, 2011

Something about that statement chills me to the bone.  Sure, Obama was speaking at a political fundraiser – he has to convince potential donors he can win in order to separate them from their money. 

But big political donors are, in the main, successful business people, the kinds of people Obama regularly trashes as “fat-cats” and paints as avaricious, evil, conniving cheats living large off the backs of the “little man” that need to pay their “fair share.” 

So why would they even show up?  What is wrong with them?

Here is the question I keep asking myself:  Obama’s latest approval rating according to Gallup is at 38% and his disapproval rating is at 54%. 

These numbers are based on the question, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling his job as president?”  

Thirty-eight percent of those queried approved of the way he is handling his job.  What is wrong with them?  Because if there is nothing wrong with them, then the process of elimination says there is something wrong with me.

Finally, there is Obama himself.  He believes the odds of his re-election as a known quantity are “far better” than the odds of his being elected the first time?  What is wrong with him

How could they be so out-of-touch? 

Is there anything that this man’s administration has done right since taking office in January, 2009?  One might argue that he did the right thing in ordering the hit on Osama bin Laden, except that in so doing, he violated US law forbidding political assassination. 

I am personally thrilled that Osama was dispatched to his reward, but I would much preferred it occur at the end of a scaffold at Guantanamo Bay after he had been thoroughly interrogated, tried and convicted by a military tribunal.

Instead he was evidently executed on the spot, and his body whisked away to a private Islamic funeral service and burial at sea before the country could even absorb the news that he had been located.

It would have been hard to picture just how anybody could bungle taking out Osama bin Laden. But Obama managed it.

Instead of a sense of closure, we were left with more questions. 

Assessment:

Even as Obama was pronouncing himself more re-electable than ever before, Representative Darrel Issa’s investigation of Operation Fast and Furious revealed that the White House knew about the operation, despite earlier denials.

Operation Fast and Furious (Gunwalker) was the administration’s first major scandal (if one discounts the birth certificate forgery, the Connecticut Social Security number, voter intimidation, ACORN, etc. Why not? The media did.)

Operation Fast and Furious came to the attention of the Congress following the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry using a weapon supplied by the Mexican drug cartel by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

Since then, at least three more murders have been linked to the Gunwalker program. Now, even CBS News is alleging a cover up that reaches all the way into the Oval Office.  

Coming on the heels of Fast and Furious is Solyndra. This one might be the big one – it is hard to say.  While Obama might possibly be able to duck responsibility for Fast and Furious, Solyndra has his name all over it.

Solyndra made solar panels and was the centerpiece of Obama’s Green Jobs Initiative.  Solyndra was the recipient of more than $500 million in government grants and loan guarantees despite the Bush administration’s assessment that Solyndra was too risky.

One of Solyndra’s major investors was also a major Obama fundraiser. After he made a flurry of visits to the White House, last year, Solyndra got the money.  Obama made a big production of it. Cameras in tow, he toured the facility.

Obama hailed Solyndra as one of the major successes of the stimulus, counting Solyndra’s 1,100 workers among the millions of jobs he “saved or created.”

In one Aug. 19, 2009, email obtained by the House panel, it was clear to some administration officials that the solar company had shaky finances.

“While debt coverage is robust under stress conditions, the project cash balance goes to $62,000.00 in September 2011,” said the email, which was prescient since the company did in fact go bankrupt in that very time frame.

But just days after that August 19, 2009, email, Obama officials approved the loan to Solyndra, with Vice President Joe Biden attending the company’s ground-breaking via satellite.

On September 6, 2011 (and right on schedule) Solyndra ran out of money, laid off all 1,100 of its employees and declared bankruptcy.  Nobody knows, at this point, what happened to the $500 million in taxpayer money.  

Operation Fast and Furious is still under investigation. The Solyndra Scandal is just beginning to heat up.

And now there is a new scandal in the making.

Like Solyndra, Lightsquared links directly to Obama. Air Force General William Shelton told Congress behind closed doors that the White House had pressured him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a firm with close ties to the Obama administration.

Lightsquared is a wireless telecommunications company trying to set up a nationwide 4G telephone network.  The problem, from General Shelton’s perspective, is that the network would interfere with the national GPS system. 

That is a pretty big problem.

What the White House wanted General Shelton to say is that the GPS problem would be fixed within about ninety days of granting the contract. 

General Shelton refused to lie to the Congress, which probably means the end of his Air Force career.

A source familiar with the technology told Fox News that the LightSquared spectrum would be 5 billion times stronger than the military’s GPS system, rendering the military’s system almost useless.

“Imagine trying to have a telephone conversation while your neighbors are hosting a rock concert,” the source told Fox News. “That’s the situation the military is facing.”

Shelton, in testimony Thursday before a House Armed Services subcommittee, refused to suggest that interference problems could be mitigated, as he allegedly was being pressured to say.

He did testify that testing done by various agencies responsible for military GPS positioning “demonstrated empirically that the LightSquared signals interfere with all of the types of receivers in the test.”

Any one of these scandals would have been enough to bring down the Bush administration, even during the economic boom period.

All three of them had already hit the headlines before Obama confidently predicted he was more electable now than he was before.

Scandals, backroom deals, class warfare, dirty politics, unthinkable deficits, 44 million unemployed, zero job growth, collapsing foreign policy, and yet forty-four percent of Americans polled still say they approve of the job he is doing as president!  

What’s wrong with these people?

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

That’s what’s wrong with these people. 

The Rapture

The Rapture
Vol: 120 Issue: 16 Friday, September 16, 2011

I believe that the Bible clearly teaches a pre-trib Rapture, not because it holds out the promise of a ‘great escape’, or because somebody convinced me in a high-pressure sales job, or because it is my opinion and I am sticking to it.

I believe the Bible teaches a pre-trib Rapture because a pre-Trib Rapture puts the last days and the Tribulation into a context consistent with the overall flow of Bible prophecy. 

That is the only reason that I teach a pre-trib Rapture.  It makes no difference to me if other, sincere born-again believers embrace a different view; the timing of the Rapture plays no role in our salvation. 

Saving faith is faith in Who is coming, that He is coming again, as promised, and that He will keep all His other promises, including standing as our Advocate before the Righteous Judge. 

Our faith is that “God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

But the timing of the Rapture is CENTRAL to the understanding of the overall Big Picture in the last days.

The ‘last days’ is a different era than the Tribulation Period.  The ‘last days’ is used throughout Scripture in the context of the Church Age. 

At Pentecost, the Apostles, newly-indwelt by the Holy Spirit, rushed from the Upper Room to the street, giddy from the experience. So giddy, in fact, that some bystanders thought they were drunk.

 “Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But THIS IS THAT WHICH was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass IN THE LAST DAYS saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:” (Acts 2:13-17)

The ‘last days’ is the Church Age, whereas the Tribulation is the ‘Time of Jacob’s Trouble’. They are two different Dispensations of God. That is central to understanding the times in which we now live.

We are currently in the “dispensation of the grace of God” (Ephesians 3:2). Paul calls the conclusion of this present dispensation the ‘dispensation of the fullness of times.’ (Ephesians 1:10)

During this dispensation, believers are indwelt by the Holy 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.”

But John reminds us:

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1John 4:3-4)

Note the context.  John is speaking of the ‘spirit of antichrist’ which he says is ‘already in the world.’ He says that the spirit of antichrist cannot overcome the Church saints; because He Who indwells us (the Holy Spirit) is greater than the spirit of antichrist. 

But this SAME PROPHET, writing of the SAME antichrist, (once antichrist comes in the flesh), says;

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to OVERCOME them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)

Since John penned both passages, and they cannot both be simultaneously true, the flow of Bible prophecy is interrupted, if the Church Age runs concurrent with the Tribulation.

During the Tribulation, the antichrist is ‘given’ power to overcome the saints. Is he ‘given’ power over the Holy Spirit? Jesus said, in the context of devils driving out devils, ‘a house divided cannot stand’. (Matthew 12:25)

Clearly, God isn’t giving power over Himself to the antichrist.  That leaves two possibilities, apart from a pre-trib Rapture.

The first is that the Holy Spirit indwells the Church until the onset of the Tribulation, at which point He is withdrawn from the vessels he indwells, leaving believers on their own.

The Apostle Paul says He is ‘withdrawn’ BEFORE ‘that Wicked’ is revealed. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8

For a pre-Trib Rapture to be a false doctrine means our generation was chosen out of all others in Church history to face the greatest spiritual trial the world has ever known —  without the Comforter that Jesus promised would indwell us until He comes.

The second possibility is that John was either lying or mistaken when he said the spirit of antichrist cannot overcome indwelt believers.

In either case, the promises of Scripture are broken.

Assessment:

Over the last thirty years, I’ve listened to explanation after explanation of why the pre-trib Rapture is a ‘false doctrine’.  It usually revolves around the concept of a ‘great escape’ or some other misunderstanding of the flow of Bible prophecy.

Its opponents will spare no effort to ‘prove’ that it is a false doctrine, as if the timing of the Rapture were somehow of eternal significance.  It is not.

The eternal significance of the Rapture is this:

“The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout . . . 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. . .” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)

 Now let’s try and pull it all together. 

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

Note the first thing Jesus says in reply to that question.

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:3-4

Jesus said the one who comes in His Name would deceive ‘many’ – not all.  Initially, most of Israel will be fooled. 

“I am come in My Father’s name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” (John 5:43)

Paul identifies the one who Israel eventually (and temporarily) receives as their messiah as the antichrist.

And so, if the one claiming to be Jesus is standing on the ground, instead of meeting me in the air, then I will know that he is an imposter, no matter what tricks he is able to perform. 

The doctrine of a pre-Trib Rapture isn’t a ‘great escape’ for the Church; it is a necessary evacuation of the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence as part of the overall Big Picture for the last days.

Remove it, and the chronology of Bible prophecy is thrown into chaos.

The pre-trib Rapture doctrine has no saving value.  It is of no eternal consequence to anyone that they believe in a pre-Trib Rapture.  I feel no particular need to convert someone to my understanding of the last days.

One is saved by God’s grace through faith in the finished Work of His Son on the Cross as payment in full as our pardon for sin.

But without the pre-Trib Rapture doctrine, Bible prophecy has no context. That is why I teach it as doctrine. It is my obligation as a minister of Christ. 

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2nd Timothy 2:15)

And our insurance against end-times deception.

Thereafter What??

Thereafter What??
Vol: 120 Issue: 15 Thursday, September 15, 2011

The formal name for the last book of the New Testament is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ to St John” and not “The Book of Revelations,” or “Revelations” or “The Apocalypse of John.”

John himself never titled the Book he penned while in exile on the Isle of Patmos.  The Book was titled by Jesus Christ Himself:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)

The word “revelation” is the English equivalent to apokalupsis meaning, “unveiling” or “lifting of the veil” which is why it is also sometimes called the Book of the Apocalypse

The Lord divided the Book into two parts; “the things which are and the things which shall be thereafter.” (Revelation 1:19)  

The first part of the Book is written to the seven churches; identifying them as the “things which are.”

At the time of John’s exile, there were seven major churches in Asia Minor; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. (Interestingly, all seven were located in modern-day Turkey, which is 99.8% Muslim, according to the CIA Worldfactbook.) 

If the “things which are” referred to those seven specific cities, then we would now have to be centuries into the period Jesus identified as the “things which shall be thereafter.”

Jesus concludes His revelation about the “things which are” with a cryptic message, intended not for the natural man, but understandable only to those already indwelt by the Holy Spirit:

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:22)

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

At that point, there is a jump from the “things which are” to John’s hearing a trumpet, and a voice telling John that what comes next are “the things which shall be thereafter.”

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)

John says in the next verse that “immediately I was in the Spirit” and the next thing he saw was “a throne set in heaven.”

Let’s stop here for a second and summarize. The Book of Revelation is the Revelation of Jesus Christ.  It is not addressed to John, it is sent to John.  It is addressed to the ‘servants of Jesus Christ’ – look at it again.

“The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him, to shew unto His servants things which must shortly come to pass; and He sent and signified it by his angel unto His servant John.” (Revelation 1:1)

Who are the “servants of Jesus Christ?” Ummm, lessee. Angels?  Nope? Individuals? Maybe, but Jesus said of individual believers,

“Henceforth, I call you not servants, but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15)

The servants of Jesus Christ are the individual Churches that exist within the Body of Christ.  

The Book is distinctly divided into two parts; not three, not five, not fifteen or eighteen, but just two.  The first division is identified as the things which are.

The second division is what “shall be thereafter.”  Which leaves the obvious question remaining.

Thereafter what?

Assessment:

Jesus assigns specific characteristics to each of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor which correspond historically with seven distinct epochs within the Church Age. 

For example, the first of the Churches mentioned, Ephesus; bold in resolute endurance, discerning, intolerant of departures from the faith, this is the Apostolic epoch. 

There was Smyrna, battling nobly with trials and danger, in the midst of poverty and suffering but rich in faith and good works. The Age of the Martyrs.

Then comes Pergamos, married to the world. This church epoch began with the Emperor Constantine declaring Christianity to be the State Church of Rome.

The Church at Thyatira was condemned for its continual sacrifice and the introduction of new doctrines, corresponding historically with Dark Ages. (Purgatory, indulgences, and the Inquisition).

Sardis was the ‘dead’ Church, as it had become by the time of the Reformation.  Sardis gave way to the period of revival following the publication and distribution of the Word of God to the common man.

The period from the Reformation in the 15th century to the end of the 19th century, was the epoch of the Church of Philadelphia. This was the ‘missionary church’ that took the Bible to the New World, to darkest Africa, to China and the far corners of the earth.

The end of the Philadelphia Church Age coincided with the ‘Enlightenment’ in Europe, brought about by ‘modernist’ thinking near the end of the 19th century which ushered in the Laodicean Epoch, the era of Church history that unmistakably corresponds with the time in which we now live.

From Philadelphia to Laodicea, distinguished for its worldly riches, its high-toned profession and spiritual pride; yet lowest in the scale and standard of all, neither cold nor hot — a religion of boasting words, but devoid of moral strength — “poor, blind, and naked.”

The center of the Church of Laodicea isn’t Jesus, but rather, it is what its name implies; Laos, (people) and dike meaning, “decision” — or the “Church of the People’s Decision”.

The name wasn’t chosen by accident. If ever there was a generation of Christians to whom that description fits, it is this one. 

At the Church of Laodicea, Jesus isn’t inside, but stands on the outside and knocks, waiting to be invited in. 

Given our perspective of 20/20 hindsight, there are but two possible conclusions concerning the period of time Jesus said would be identifiable as the “things which are.”

It either refers to the historical period in which these seven specific churches existed in Turkey, in which case we have been living in the period “which shall be thereafter” for about 1200 years now, or it refers to the period from the Apostolic era to the conclusion of the Church Age at the Rapture.

If it means the former, then it became irrelevant the moment that the churches in those cities ceased to exist. Doesn’t it?  Can it mean anything else?  What is left?

If the Revelation of Jesus Christ to His servants is to have any meaning to His servants, then it logically follows that His message to the Churches was a continuing message relevant to the entire Church Age, and not just to seven long-lost church communities in Asia Minor.

The Church Age is the period that encompasses the “things which are”.  That which “shall be thereafter”is the Tribulation Period, which begins when John hears a trumpet, and the voice of an angel, and the scene instantly shifts from the physical to the spiritual and relocates in heaven. 

That event is specifically identified as the commencement of the “things which shall be thereafter.”

We’ve gone the long way to get where I wanted to go, but that was because I wanted to ensure as air-tight a case as possible.  There are many well-meaning and sincere Christians that believe that this generation of Christians will be present for all or part of the Tribulation Period. 

But the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ specifically divides itself into the physical here and now and the spiritual thereafter.  The “here and now” ends with translation, alive, into the spiritual hereafter. 

This occurs before the opening of the first seal, (antichrist) before the ride of the next three horsemen, (War, Famine and Death) before the moon turns into blood and before the seventh seal pours out the Wrath of God.

FIRST comes the Trumpet (the Rapture).  Then, two chapters later (suggesting some element of time has passed) comes the onset of the Tribulation Period.  

No matter what kind of Scriptural gymnastics one resorts to, there is no way for the “things which are” to also be the “things which shall be thereafter.”

The “things which are” include the Church at Laodicea all the way up to when the addressees of the Book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ find themselves in the Spirit before a Throne set in Heaven.  AFTER that comes the “things which shall be thereafter”.

The dividing line imposed by Jesus can only be in one place – the place where JESUS divided it.  At the Rapture – and it doesn’t fit anywhere else. 

If it fit at the sixth seal, then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation.  If it fit at the first seal, (the revealing of the antichrist) then that is where Jesus would have divided His Revelation. 

But Jesus divided it at the conclusion of the Laodicean Church epoch. The Apostle Paul described the conclusion of the Church Age from the perspective of Planet Earth.

“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.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

The Apostle John described it from the perspective of Heaven:

“After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.” (Revelation 4:1)

Both Apostles are describing the same event from different perspectives!

Note also that John is in Heaven for some time before the first seal is broken – and therefore, so is the Church, or the symbolism is meaningless. John witnesses the events that precede the breaking of the first seal – and so does the Church.

So the indwelt Church cannot be both present on earth when the first seal is broken AND present in heaven to witness the breaking of the first seal.  

Here is what that means.  From where we sit, we are so close we almost think we can identify the antichrist – there is a whole new sect of Christians emerging that believe they already have.

But the Bible clearly tells us the Rapture comes first.  So if we are so close we can almost identify the antichrist, the Rapture of the Church is that much closer. 

And with all the chaos and war and upheaval and financial and natural disasters coming upon us, the Apostle Paul says of the Rapture;

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

Words of comfort.  Not words of terror.  There is a difference.  It would be far less comforting to me if I believed it was addressed only to the survivors of the first six judgments. 

And it would make far less sense.