Battlefield Tactics

Battlefield Tactics
Vol: 142 Issue: 19 Friday, July 19, 2013

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics explains why paper, trees, coal, gas and all things like them burn, why sand and dry ice even in pure oxygen can’t ever burn, why the sun will eventually cool down, why iron rusts, why there are hurricanes or any weather at all on earth, what makes things break, why houses get torn apart in tornadoes or explosions, and why everything living tends to die.

Science demands empirical evidence; that is to say, before something can be a scientific fact, it must first be able to be demonstrated in a lab experiment. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be demonstrated by closing up your house for five years and letting it ‘go to seed’.

When you come home again, you will have your proof that things, left to themselves, deteriorate.

The theory of evolution requires reversing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory and is so scientifically suspect that it remains, after 150 years or so, a scientific ‘theory’. The only thing about evolution that is demonstrable is that somehow, a ‘theory’ evolved into a ‘fact’ — all by itself.

But all these concepts are being constantly hammered into people, from turning into angels to denying God even exists, and if we know anything about how the human brain works at all, we know that the best way to teach something is by constant repetition.

Consequently, there are probably as many opinions being offered about how to get to heaven as there are people who have them. At one time or another, all of us have run into somebody who is planning to trust that his good works will counter-balance his bad ones.

Or people who think that whoever believes in God will go to heaven. Others think going to church is their ticket. Some think that anybody who has led a ‘good life’ will be granted admission.

Others believe that keeping the Ten Commandments will get them into heaven.

Assessment:

It is the mission of every Christian to be “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,” according to 1 Peter 3:15.

That is why your Omega Letter exists — to supply you with the ammunition and a tactical plan of battle — before you step out onto the battlefield.

The battle is of eternal importance. Every person we meet over the course of a day has an eternal destiny. They will spend eternity in unspeakable joy in the Presence of Christ, or they will spend a Christless eternity in unspeakable torment.

Those who think that living a ‘good life’ — or that the scales will balance out somehow in their favor before the Throne — start out with a misunderstanding of their relationship with God.

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. ” (Romans 3:20)

Being ‘good enough’ is a belief structure that measures a person against OTHER people.

That isn’t ‘good enough’ for God — and neither is it fair.

‘Good enough’, compared to whom? Mother Teresa? Your cousin Phil? The Pope? Saddam Hussein?

The only fair standard against which God could measure ‘good enough’ would be His own. Since God is sinless, He can not stand sin, or people with sin. To be good enough for God means to be sinless — an obvious impossibility.

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” says Romans 3:23

Think of it this way. If three of us throw darts at a dart board and one gets two inches away from the bullseye, another four inches away, and another misses the board completely, which one of us hit the bullseye?

The reason for the ‘hope that is in you’ is the knowledge of the fact that missing the bullseye means exactly that. Nobody hit it except Jesus.

But in a dart game, it only takes one guy on the team to hit it for that team to win. The Bible says that team membership is ‘good enough’ — if you are on the team that hit the bullseye.

It is incumbent upon each of us, who have been granted the unspeakable gift of salvation, to teach other people how to join the team. Repent (change your mind) about your sin nature and your ability to clean up on your own. Trust Jesus.

“To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:26-28)

“Seeing then that we have a great high Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” (Hebrews 4:14)

Until He comes. Marantha!

Note: This Letter was originally pubished October 8, 2004.  And the battle wages on!

Today’s Featured Commentary: When Facts Don’t Really Matter

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog

The Who’s Who of Gog-Magog
Vol: 142 Issue: 18 Thursday, July 18, 2013

According to the prophet Ezekiel, there will arise in the last days, a massive military and political alliance more-or-less formally known as the ‘Gog-Magog Alliance.’

“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him . . .” (Ezekiel 38:2)

According to Ezekiel, Gog and Magog will lead an alliance of nations in the last days in a disastrous [for them] invasion against the reborn nation of Israel.

In Ezekiel 38:3, Ezekiel clearly identifies Gog as a person, rather than a place; “the prince of Meshech and Tubal.”

The Scofield Reference Bible’s notes to Ezekiel claim that “Meshech” is a Hebrew form of Moscow, and that “Tubal” represents the Siberian capital Tobolsk.

That interpretation would make Gog both a ‘place’ — the Russian Federation of Nations — AND a ‘person’ — in the sense of a federated Russian leadership.

The Interlinear Bible (Hebrew – Greek – English) renders that verse as:

“Son of man, set your face toward Gog, the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal; and prophesy concerning him.”

(In Hebrew, the word ‘Rosh’ meant, ‘chief prince’, or, the ‘chief of the chief princes.’)

Magog was a son of Japeth, who, together with his brothers Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah (Genesis 10:2-3) settled what is modern-day Russia and the southern steppes of the Caucasus mountains.

And Ezekiel identifies ‘Gog’ as coming from the north of Israel. Following the compass due north from Jerusalem will take you through the center of Moscow.

The army of Gog and Magog primarily includes people from the nations of Gog, Gomer, Tubal, Meshech, and the house of Togarmah from the “north parts.” They will be joined by Persians from the East, Put from the West, Cushites from the South, and others.

“Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. . . ” (Ezekiel 38:5-6)

“Gomer” is mentioned in Genesis as well as Ezekiel. The Jewish-turned-Roman historian Flavius Josephus identified Gomer with the Galatians.

“For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites.” (Antiquities of the Jews, I:6.)

Ancient Galatia was an area in the highlands of central Anatolia (now Turkey). Galatia was bounded on the north by Bithynia and Paphlagonia, on the east by Pontus, on the south by Lycaonia and Cappadocia, and on the west by the remainder of Phrygia, the eastern part of which the Gauls had invaded.

The modern capital of Turkey, Ankara, is part of ancient Galatia.

Historically, ‘Gomer’ is also linked to the ancient Cimmerians. The Cimmerians eventually settled the regions north of the Caucasus and the Black Sea, in what is now parts of Russia and the Ukraine.

The Cimmerians are believed to have migrated north from the region now called Azebaijan around the time of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

Both the ancient Cimmerians and the Gomerites spoke a form of the Thracian or Persian language.

Tubal was another son of Japheth who settled the area. Josephus wrote:

“Tobal gave rise to the Thobeles, who are now called Iberes”.

Josephus’ ‘Iberes’ settled in the area of the former Soviet state of Georgia.

Ezekiel begins his listing of Gog-Magog’s allies with Persia, or modern day Iran. Iran’s allies, according to Ezekiel, include “Ethiopia” and “Libya.”

The Libya of Ezekiel’s day wasn’t Muammar Ghadaffi’s Libya. Josephus writes:

“Phut also was the founder of Libya to the south and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself.”

(Some versions of Scripture render ‘Libya’ (as does the KJV) whereas others render it ‘Put’ — a grandson of Noah.)

Put settled an area that included most of North Africa including Libya and parts of modern Egypt.

“Ethiopia” (also rendered by some versions as ‘Cush’) was a civilization centered in the North African region of Nubia, located in what is today southern Egypt and northern Sudan.

Cush was another grandson of Noah, and the father of Nimrod. Josephus gives an account of the nation of Cush, who is the son of Ham and the grandson of Noah.

“For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Chus; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites.” (Antiquities of the Jews I:6.)

In the 5th century AD the Himyarites, in the south of Arabia, were styled by Syrian writers as Cushaeans and Ethiopians, and it is certain that the present-day areas of Yemen and Eritrea were both ruled together by one dynasty at that time.

The African ‘Kush’ covered Upper Egypt, and extended southwards from the First Cataract. In addition, the Cushitic peoples, who live around the Horn of Africa and today comprise the Somali, Afar, Oromo and several other tribes, are popularly asserted to be the offspring of the Biblical Cush.

That the Biblical term was also applied to parts of Arabia is suggested by Genesis, where Cush is the eponymous father of certain tribal and ethnic designations that tend to point to Arabia.

Babylonian inscriptions mention the Kashshi or Kassites, and it was once held that this signified a possible explanation of Cush, the ancestor of Nimrod in Genesis chapter 8.

The rhetorical question, “Can the Cushite change his skin?” in Jeremiah 13:23 implies people of a notably different skin color from the Israelites, most probably an African race.

Also, the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament, made by Greek-speaking Jews between 250 BC and 100 BC, uniformly translates Cush as “Ethiopia”.

Assessment:

So, this is what we know. We know that Ezekiel predicts that, ‘in the latter days’ the chief of chief princes of an alliance called Gog-Magog will arise from a location to the uttermost north of Israel.

We know that due north of the city of Jerusalem on the same longitude is the modern city of Moscow.

We know that Gog will be reluctantly drawn into a conflict with Israel. Ezekiel says Gog will be ‘drawn’ as if he ‘had hooks in his jaws’ into this conflict.

The Gog Magog alliance includes modern Russia, the Ukraine, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, North Africa, and the Middle East extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf.

We also know that the target of the Gog Magog Alliance is the restored nation of Israel. And finally, we know the time frame. Ezekiel says it will take place ‘in the latter days’. Here is something else we know. Ezekiel’s alignment of nations was never possible in previous generations.

To begin with, Ezekiel’s scenario demands the existence of Israel,

“the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations . . ” (Ezekiel 38:8-9)

From Ezekiel’s day until May 14, 1948, there was no place on earth called ‘Israel’. Prior to 1948, Russia had little interest in the Middle East. The Middle East had been part of the Islamic Ottoman Empire since the time of Columbus.

Ezekiel lived one thousand years before Mohammed introduced Islam to the world. Ezekiel lived twenty-five hundred years before David ben-Gurion announced the rebirth of Israel on May 14, 1948.

The fulfillment of Ezekiel’s Gog-Magog prophecy depends entirely on the simultaneous development of two concurrent events; the rebirth of Israel and the rebirth of Mohammedan-style radical Islam.

Look at Ezekiel’s main protagonists. There are three.

The first is Gog and Magog, the modern Russian federation. Gog and Magog’s participation in the invasion force, according to Ezekiel, comes as a result of God’s promise to,

“turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth. . .” (Ezekiel 38:4)

I’ve often pondered the phrase, ‘turn thee back’ (Hebrew ‘paqad’ or ‘call to remembrance’). I recall writing a piece for This Week in Bible Prophecy in 1992. The story was about the new Russian parliament suddenly breaking mid-session to rush out to the halls of the Duma where newly-admitted Western missionaries were handing out free New Testaments.

Having just emerged from a lifetime of godless Communism, Russians were eager to hear the Word of God and Christian missionaries were welcomed with open arms.

For several years, Russians were offered this ‘call to remembrance’ of Scripture before former KGB operative Vladimir Putin slammed the door shut on foreign missionaries. The Russian Orthodox Church — which was heavily inflitrated by the KGB during the Communist era — the only legal Christian religion in Russia.

The ‘call to remembrance’ was over. When Moscow later entered into its nuclear agreement with Iran, the hook was set.

The second of Ezekiel’s protagonists is the alliance itself.

Look at the list carefully. Every single nation and region named as Gog-Magog allies is part of the Islamic world. Every single one of them.

Islamic North Africa, [Ethiopia and Libya] including the Sudan, whose Islamic government is currently conducted genocide against its Christian population.

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the heart and soul of radical Wahabbist jihadist Islam.

Turkey, (ruled by the Islamic Party), together with most of the Russian Republic’s Islamic ‘stans’.

Persia, or modern Iran, the ‘hook’ in Gog’s jaw. Iran’s nuclear program was built by, overseen, guarded and maintained by Russian scientists, technicians and military forces. Iran’s leader has made it something of a habit to mention the destruction of Israel in every speech.

That brings us to the third protagonist in Ezekiel’s scenario — Israel.

According to Ezekiel, the entire invasion force is assembled to one purpose. The destruction of Israel. Israel has but two choices facing it.

Israel can gamble that the rest of the world will restrain Iran’s mad mullahs from pulling the nuclear trigger against them. Or Israel can act militarily to remove the threat itself.

A third possibility, although not among Israel’s choices, is that the United States will act to remove Iran’s nuclear facilities before Israel faces the point of no return. The possibility the US will act in time is just that — a possibility.

Israel’s entire existence has been a gamble, but gambling that the world will protect them from Iran is an unacceptable bet. Gambling on US intervention is a long shot, but the odds are within acceptable ranges, so Israel can afford to sit tight for the time being.

But Israel will only gamble with its existence for so long before it is forced to push all its chips into the middle and take out Iran’s Russian-built, Russian-staffed and Russian-guarded nuclear facilities.

Setting the hook in Gog’s jaw and bringing all three protagonists together ‘against the mountains of Israel’ exactly as Ezekiel predicted would take place ‘in the latter days’.

Note: Jack wrote this Letter on April 13, 2006Tick. Tock. 

Today’s Featured Commentary: June 2013: What’s Up with the Weather

Proving All Things In The Age Of Information Overload

Proving All Things In The Age Of Information Overload
Vol: 142 Issue: 17 Wednesday, July 17, 2013

”Information overload” is a term that has come to mean ”a state of having too much information to make a decision or remain informed about a topic.” Too much information can cloud the facts, harden the heart, blind one to the obvious.

Sir William of Occam saw the need to address the problem of information overload as early as the 14th century. A philosopher, Sir William formulated what became known as “Occam’s Razor” as a philosophy for processing information overload.

Occam’s Razor says, in a nutshell, “the simpler the explanation, the more likely its correctness.” Another way of saying it is “the most obvious explanation is the most probable.”

We live in an age of conspiracies and conspiracy theories, but Occam’s Razor still cuts through the excesses of information to get to the heart of the truth of a matter.

But information overload doesn’t just cloud the facts and blind one to the obvious. It also tends to harden the heart and sear the conscience.

How many “Amber alerts” does it take before they blend into the white noise of the day? How many murder/suicides of whole families before we tune them out?

How many reports of corrupt politicians before we accept political corruption as simply the way things are done?

The equation works like this: “The more you know, the less you see.” It all gets jumbled together in a massive flow of information that gets input before we’ve had time to process it all.

We live in the generation in which the sheer volume of information related to Bible prophecy creates its own kind of information overload and its companion results.

There’s so much evident fulfillment of Bible prophecy on a day to day basis that it tends to cloud the facts. Trying to sort out the facts tends to blind one to the obvious. And too much information tends to harden the heart and sear the conscience.

The Bible says, “Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.” (1st Thessalonians 5:21)

It would appear that Sir William stole Occam’s Razor from the Apostle Paul. Paul is telling the Thessalonians to subject everything submitted to you to be believed to a proper test.

The meaning here is, that they were carefully to examine everything proposed for their belief. They were not to receive it on trust. They weren’t to take it on faith because of who proposed it or how.

They were to apply the proper tests of reason and the Word of God and what they found to be true they were to embrace, and what was false they were to reject.

Christianity does not require men to disregard their ability to reason. It does not expect them to believe anything because others say it is so. The Bible uniquely demands the application of reason to the Word of God.

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD.” (Isaiah 1:18)

“Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.” (Isaiah 41:21)

Acts is filled with examples of the Apostles applying reason to the Scriptures when preaching Christ as the way of salvation.

“And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:25)

Christianity doesn’t demand that believers abandon their reason and logic at the door.

It requires we exercise both, and in so doing, proves itself to be of God.

Assessment:

“And this I say,” Paul told the Colossians, “lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. . . As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”

The meaning here is simply this: “Since you have received Christ as your Lord as He was preached to you, hold fast the doctrine which you have received and don’t be distracted by some new philosophy.”

It means proving all things by applying reason and logic and Occam’s (or Paul’s) Razor to the Scriptures. Sometimes, we can get so caught up in the minutiae of Scripture that we become blinded to the Bible’s Majesty.

All the various prophecies we are witnessing coming to pass in our lifetimes have been studied by every generation since the time of the Apostles. They all waited in vain, searching the Scriptures for some hint that the return of the Lord was near.

In this generation, there is no need to search for clues, or dream up some vague interpretation of some obscure bit of Scripture and try and make it apply to a given situation. Seeing God’s Hand in unfolding history has become so routine that it blends into the rest of the white noise of information overload.

Let’s step back and look at the Bible’s Majesty, rather than the minutiae, for a change.

The Bible was compiled over a period of 1604 years (BC 1492-AD100) by forty different authors, each writing his portion of the overall Book independently. The various authors were kings, statesmen, priests, herdsmen, tax collectors, fishermen, a physician, and itinerant preachers and prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah.

Few of them knew of the existence of the other at the time they wrote their portion. Some books were composed during the same periods of history from different perspectives, some were penned over a period of centuries.

But each book flows into the next as if the entire work were penned by the same Mind. The Bible cross-references itself across its whole library of 66 individual books; 39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New. The Bible is unique in that it is a series of progressive revelations from God given over a period of centuries:

The judges knew more than the Patriarchs, the Prophets than the judges, the Apostles than the Prophets. Yet the Old and New Testaments cannot be separated. You cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, or Daniel without Revelation.

The Bible is unique in its simplicity of speech. It is written in a style so universal that it can be translated into any known language.

The Bible contains thousands of details of science, history, geography, medicine and astronomy. Not a single fact contained in Scripture on any of these topics conflicts with any known evidence.

Isaiah said the earth was round. (Isaiah 40:22) Job wrote from the Middle East of polar ice caps and permafrost.

Ecclesiastes (1:7) and Job (36:27-29), Jeremiah (10:13) and Psalms (135:7) together present the complete description of the hydrological cycle that sustains life on earth.

Four different human authors, four different points on the historical timeline, four different backgrounds (none of them science) but their individual accounts, taken together, outline in detail the complete hydrological cycle of the atmosphere — millennia before its existence was even confirmed by science.

As a work of history, no single historical event, personage, king, kingdom or timeline has ever been conclusively disproved by anyone. Every new discovery confirms the Bible’s account.

No event that can be disproved ever has been. Concerning the accuracy of Luke as a historian, for example, F. F. Bruce writes:

“A man whose accuracy can be demonstrated in matters where we are able to test it is likely to be accurate even where the means for testing him are not available. Accuracy is a habit of mind, and we know from happy (or unhappy) experience that some people are habitually accurate just as others can be depended upon to be inaccurate. Luke’s record entitles him to be regarded as a writer of habitual accuracy.”

The Bible contains advanced medical knowledge regarding sanitary practices and disease prevention not known to Western medicine until the late 1800’s. God instructed the Israelites to burn the garments of leprosy victims.

Western medicine didn’t learn that leprosy was an infectious, rather than hereditary disease until 1873. (It wasn’t until the 20th century that we learned leprosy can survive for up to three weeks on clothing.)

God told Moses to use hyssop oil as a purifying agent. Hyssop oil has been shown to contain 50% antifungal and antibacterial agents.

God commanded the Israelites to perform circumcision on the 8th day of a male child’s life. Specifically, the eighth day. Medical researchers recently discovered that the two main blood clotting factors, Vitamin K and Prothrombim, reach their highest level in life, about 110% of normal, on the 8th day after birth. These blood clotting agents facilitate rapid healing and greatly reduce the chance of infection.

(In fact, performing a circumcision on a child before or after the eighth day requires a Vitamin K supplement injection.)

Back in the 12th century, the Jewish sage Maimonides discovered what he believed to be coded messages hidden in the Bible. Maimonides, working by hand, discovered what he thought were coded words made up of mathematically calculable equidistant letter sequences.

Using computers in the 1990’s several mathematicians from Hebrew University and a Defense Department code specialist named Harold Gans discovered mathematically provable codes do exist at equidistant letter sequences.

After demanding a series of tests to prove the theory, the actuarial journal, “Statistical Science” presented their findings with the following disclaimer:

“Our referees were baffled: their prior beliefs made them think the Book of Genesis could not POSSIBLY contain meaningful references to modern day individuals, yet when the authors carried out additional analyses and checks the effect persisted.”

Wrote the “Biblical Review:”

“The capacity to embed so many, meaningfully related, randomly selected word-pairs in a body of text with a coherent surface meaning is stupendously beyond the intellectual capacity of ANY HUMAN BEING or group of people, however brilliant, and equally beyond the capacity of ANY CONCEIVABLE COMPUTING DEVICE. The phenomenon cannot be attributed to ANYTHING within the KNOWN PHYSICAL UNIVERSE, human beings included.”

Applying Occam’s Razor to the known evidence about the Bible, there can be only one of two possible conclusions.

1) The Bible is a collection of stories and myths that just so happen to coincide with provable history, medicine, geography, astronomy, etc., plus coincidentally, provably forecasts the future with 100% accuracy;

or,

2) The Bible is true in every provable way, and could only have been written by God. So God exists, heaven exists, hell exists, Jesus is real, salvation is real, and so is eternity.

But sometimes, even after being saved many years, the enemy will launch another information overload assault on my reason and try and convince me that its all a myth.

All I have to do to dispel the attack is remember there are only those two logical choices and Occam’s Razor.

Coincidence? Occam’s Razor says that cannot be possible.

Note: This Letter was originally published August 2, 2007.  Today’s information overload is on hyper-drive, it was good to get back to basics this morning.

Today’s Featured Commentary: Pre-Wrath Debunked Part II

The Hole in the Melting Pot

The Hole in the Melting Pot
Vol: 142 Issue: 16 Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I grew up during one of the most racially troubled periods in modern history.  I recall watching the marches.  I remember seeing police officers setting dogs on the peaceful marchers.

I was a teenager when the whole country, it seemed, was set afire by the race riots.

The Watts riots set off similar riots in Chicago and Detroit.  Growing up in and around Buffalo, I recall signs in shop windows proclaiming the shopowner to be a “Soul Brother” –in hopes of warding off rioters.

I never personally experienced racism until I was in Marine Corps boot camp in 1969.

My drill instructor was a guy named S/Sgt. J. R. James. When he found out I was Canadian, he nicknamed me ‘Wacky Jack’ — whenever another DI stopped by, Sgt. James would invite him to inspect ‘his pet Canadian’ whereupon I would race to the center of the squadbay to be ‘inspected.’

They’d look me over and say helpful things like, “No wonder the Canadians sent him down here.” and, “they don’t grow ’em too sturdy up there, do they?” and other kind words of encouragement.

(I kept part of the nickname — I dropped the ‘Wacky’ part and only had to put up with it when I ran into somebody from my old platoon)

One of the guys in our platoon was a great, big loudmouthed lout by the name of Brunson who decided he just didn’t like Canadians.   And given that Pvt. Brunson towered a foot over me and outweighed me by 100 lbs, it was a problem.

One day that problem came to a head in the squadbay when Brunson pushed me to the point where I had to either respond or make myself a target for every other bully in the platoon.

Of course, a fist fight in the squadbay meant serious trouble for everybody so we were quickly pulled apart, still hurling insults at one another.   Red with fury, my brain searched for a good one:

Hmmm, the Marine Corps builds men – he’s not a man, he’s a bully,” I thought. So I hit him with what I thought was the ultimate insult to him as a Marine and said, “You’re not a man.  You’re nothing but a boy.”

(Did I mention Pvt Brunson was black?  Honestly, until that moment, I hadn’t really noticed.)

And until that moment, most of the friends I had among the platoon were black guys, and none of them liked Brunson anymore than I did.  The racial connotation of the word ‘boy’ never even occurred to me.

But it did to all of them. Who was the racist?  Me, because I was white?   Or Brunson, who bullied me solely because I was an immigrant?   Like all things, this too is a matter of perspective.

If you were me, then I was the victim of anti-immigrant prejudice.  If you were Brunson (or the rest of the black guys in my platoon), then although it was Brunson threw the first punch, I was the closet racist that threw the first epithet.

The Brunson Incident was a watershed moment in my life.   Until that time, I didn’t really have much of a grasp on ‘racism’ as a concept.    When I realized how my comment had been received, I was devastated – I don’t think I ever felt worse in my life.

But that was 1969.  It was a different time.   We’ve come a long, long way from the days of “Soul Brother” signs and race riots.

We’ve finally integrated.  Haven’t we?

Assessment:

The American black population is set by the CIA World Fact Book at 12.85% of Americans.   The American Hispanic population is estimated at between 14% and 15% of the 79.96% of Americans classified as ‘white’

(For contrast, about 15% of Americans are die-hard members of the Tea Party.)

The President is black.  The chairman of the GOP is black.  So are the Attorney General, a member of the Supreme Court, and dozens of other top federal officials.

The most recent Supreme Court appointment went to an Hispanic, Sonia Sotomeyer.  The US Surgeon General is Antonia Novello.

Dozens of US representatives in both Houses of the Congress are Hispanic. Hispanics are represented in government, sports, entertainment, movies, science, engineering, technology, etc.

Univision and Telemundo are television networks totally dedicated to Hispanic interests, whereas “Black Entertainment Television” (BET) is totally dedicated to the “American Black Experience.”

I don’t believe I’ve ever seen America more race-conscious for less reason than it is today.

In every instance where one hears the word ‘racist’ it is being hurled by a minority at the white majority, who for the most part are as confused by it all as I was in 1969.

But in the 21s century, calling someone a ‘racist’ has become a meaningless insult.

You can’t turn on a news program without hearing that the Arizona immigration law is ‘racist’ and aimed at Hispanics – which comes as a great surprise to those Americans that, like the CIA and the Census Bureau, didn’t even know by being Spanish they weren’t ‘white.’

It is the Hispanic population that segregated itself into an identifiable racial group – although I STILL can’t tell you why Charlie Sheen, Lynda Carter or Bill Richardson aren’t ‘white’ – and I don’t think that they can, either.

I watched the May Day (originated by Karl Marx) marches during which thousands of Hispanics marched carrying signs equating immigration law in general and anyone who supports existing federal immigration law with ‘racism.’

Those that weren’t decrying anti-Hispanic ‘racism’ were carrying signs identifying them as members of the Hispanic separatist group, “La Raza” – Spanish for, “the race.”  It isn’t just that the American Melting Pot has a hole it it — the heat has been turned up so high that it is dissolving before our eyes.

Noted US Representative Charlie Norwood in a column published by Human Events:

“It is past time for all Americans to know what is at the root of this outrageous behavior, and the extent to which the nation is at risk because of “La Raza” — The Race.

There are many immigrant groups joined in the overall “La Raza” movement. The most prominent and mainstream organization is the National Council de La Raza — the Council of “The Race”.

To most of the mainstream media, most members of Congress, and even many of their own members, the National Council of La Raza is no more than a Hispanic Rotary Club.

But the National Council of La Raza succeeded in raking in over $15.2 million in federal grants last year alone, of which $7.9 million was in U.S. Department of Education grants for Charter Schools, and undisclosed amounts were for get-out-the-vote efforts supporting La Raza political positions.

The Council of La Raza succeeded in having itself added to congressional hearings by Republican House and Senate leaders.

And an anonymous senator even gave the Council of La Raza an extra $4 million in earmarked taxpayer money, supposedly for “housing reform,” while La Raza continues to lobby the Senate for virtual open borders and amnesty for illegal aliens.”

I am not a racist and I am getting a little tired of the real racists out there tarring me with their racist brush.

I am tired of Barack Obama’s supporters telling me that I don’t support his policies because of either his race or my race.

Statistically, Obama is as white as I am and I am probably as black as he is, genetically speaking.  We’re all mixed race if you go back far enough.

My family is ‘Black Irish’ – meaning we came from a part of eastern Ireland that had been occupied by Spaniards in the days of the Spanish Armada.

Does that mean I am Hispanic?  Or that I am black?  Or that Obama and Charlie Sheen are both white? Ummm,  yes.  Maybe.  And yes.

Immigration is not a racial issue.  It is a legal issue.   One is either a legal immigrant, or one is an illegal alien.  Legal immigrants come from black countries, Hispanic countries, white countries, and countries that don’t care what color somebody’s skin is.

Illegal aliens ALSO come from black countries, Hispanic countries, white countries. . . . race is nothing more than a convenient camouflage aimed at circumventing the law.

La Raza is about nothing else except race – it means “The Race”­ but what is its agenda?

In the words of their own charter, their agenda is the reconquest of the American southwest from the whites for “their” “race”.

Their motto: “Fuera La Raza todo. Fuera de La Raza nada.” (“For the Race, everything. Outside the race, nothing.”)

One of our members recently emailed me about a new book called “Breaking the Code of History” written by a secular futurist.  He was particularly impressed because the writer, David Murrin, who assessed the impending demise of the Western Christian Empire, was a total secularist.

Murrin’s assessment of the demise of Western Christendom is that it is an American Empire, which he says is the last – this collapse, he says, will be the end of Christendom. And that its collapse will come very rapidly.

“At the same time the system that rises challenges far quicker as it moves into the vacuum created by the old system, and that’s the East.  The surprise will be the rate of that change. And we view the new administration in America as new hope. Unfortunately, if you look at historical precedents of underclass and the mechanisms of an underclass actually coming to the fore demographically, it is not new hope, it’s the beginning of the end. And we’re seeing that very quickly take place.”

We’ve already discussed a similar scenario advanced by Russian futurist Igor Panarin. Panarin envisioned the economic collapse of America and its division into six regions, with the southern region, from California to Florida going to La Raza.

Secular futurist Gerald Celente’s forecast is equally dismal.

Each of these forecasts were derived by analyzing trends and projecting where these trends will lead.

All three project the demise of the world’s most Christian country and the collapse of Western Christian civilization – and all three see it coming within a matter of years, not decades.

All three tie it to the aging of the Baby Boom generation, which is defined as those persons born between 1948 and 1964, and Western support for Israel since its refounding in 1948.

When that generation passes, say these secular futurists, then what will follow is wars, famines, the economic collapse of the West and probable global dictatorship.

It sounds familiar, doesn’t it?    Revelation 6:1-8 outlines the first four judgments of the Tribulation, embodied by Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:

1) the rider on the white horse – the antichrist;

2) the rider on the red horse – war;

3) the rider on the black horse – economic collapse/famine

4) the rider on the pale horse – Death.

That is pretty much the same forecast (dictatorship, war, economic collapse and national death) that secular futurists examining current trends say is the most probably outcome – and that once begun, it will proceed very rapidly.

The futurists tie it to 1948 and the Baby Boom generation.

They say that by the time the Baby Boomer generation has passed away, their forecasted catastrophes will have come to pass.

Jesus Christ tied His return to the restoration of Israel, “the fig tree”, saying that when its branch is yet tender and puts forth leaves, it is a sign that summer is near.

He used the symbol of the fig tree to put parentheses around one generation, somewhere in time, so that specific generation would be able to recognize itself and distinguish itself from all the generations that would come and go in the interim.

“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:” 

The ‘fig tree’ blossomed on 14 May, 1948 bearing fruit for the first time in 2000 years.

“So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”  

That is exactly how the futurists see it, too.   Not because they read their Bibles – because they are reading the signs of the times.   They are reading the same signs that we are and coming up with the same conclusions and the same time frame from the same evidence.

 “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:32-34)

That’s ALSO what the futurist guys are saying.  Except that the Bible beat them to the punch by some twenty centuries.

Note: This Letter was written by Jack in 2010,  before the Zimmerman/Martin media sensation.

Today’s Featured Commentary: Missional Myopia

The Gospel According to Job

The Gospel According to Job
Vol: 142 Issue: 15 Monday, July 15, 2013

The Book of Job opens with the ”sons of God” (angels) presenting themselves before God.  The fallen angel Satan (literally, ”the accuser”) was apparently also compelled to attend this gathering of angels, since he also was there.

“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”

There is much to be learned from this verse, and also from the one following:

“And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” (Job 1:6-7)

The general outline of the story is well-known. God gives Satan permission to test Job and Job is afflicted.  He loses everything: his sons, his crops, his livestock, all his wealth and finally his health.

In all this, Job never curses God and is restored in the end.  Three of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar accuse Job of sin and point to his many afflictions as proof.

Job defends himself by claiming something close to perfection and demanding an explanation from God for his suffering.

The fourth, Elihu, jumps Job for mistaking righteousness with perfection and reminds Job that righteousness comes from God.

“I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.” (Job 36:3)

Nobody knows for sure who Job was, or even if Job was the author of the book that bears his name.

Nothing is known of Job apart from Scripture, including when the book was written, but from its literary style and use of language, it is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible, chronologically speaking.

The majority of Orthodox Jewish scholars believe Job was an actual historical figure.  The construction of the Book of Job suggests the book was penned by an Israelite who was telling the story of a non-Israelite, which also suggests a very early date, probably before Moses.

There is a tradition among some Torah scholars that suggest Job was one of three advisors to Pharaoh during the 400 years in Egypt.  That same tradition names Moses as the author of Job.

That seems unlikely.  Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible.  He had a distinctive style not evident in Job.  And Job’s lifespan puts him much closer to the time of the Flood.

Job lived some 240 years, longer than Terah, (205) longer than Abraham, (175) longer than Jacob (147) and longer than Esau (147).

By the time Moses came along almost a thousand years after Abraham, 120 years was the outside limit of a human lifespan.

Moses lived to be 120, Joshua 110.  After that, the Bible indicates that the maximum lifespan dropped to roughly where it is now, at;

“threescore and ten, and if by reason of strength, fourscore.”  (Psalms 90:10)

Assessment:

Why is the chronology of Job important?  Because he in all probability predates Abraham.  Certainly, Job was not a Jew, but there is no reference to him in the Hebrew Bible as being a Gentile.

Before Abraham, there were only Gentiles.  The Masoretic text places Abram’s birth only 292 years after the Flood.

Abraham was the eponymous father of both the Arabs and the Jews.  Before Abraham, there would be no such distinction of ‘Gentile’.  Before Abraham, everybody was a Gentile, making such a distinction unnecessary.

Job was from the ‘land of Uz’.  Uz was named for the son of Shem, grandson of Noah. (Genesis 10:23)

The Book of Job asks and answers three questions that have puzzled mankind since the the  days before the Flood.

The answer to the first question; “Where can we find God?” automatically invokes the second, “How can one be righteous before Him?” but neither has much meaning without the answer to the third: “If a man die, shall he live again?”

We have come all this way with Job, his friends, the chronology of his life and times, and his relationship to organized religion, just to address Job’s reply to that very question.

Again, let’s keep in mind that Job lived just after the Flood, and before Abraham.  There was no Bible.  Moses wouldn’t write Genesis for at least a thousand years.

Matthew 1:17 tells us there were fourteen generations from Abraham to David.  There were fourteen generations from David to the Babylonian Captivity.  And there were fourteen generations from the Captivity to Christ.

“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” (Job 14:14)

The appointed time.  Until my change come.

Forty-two generations before Christ,  Job spoke of his ‘change’ at the ‘appointed time.’

Forty-two generations later, the Apostle Paul explains:

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

Forty-two generations AFTER Christ, we eagerly await the trumpet’s call —  for this IS the ‘appointed time’.

Paul called it a ‘mystery’ because it was a doctrine not previously revealed — except to Job.  Paul said;

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”  (1st Corinthians 15:51-52)

Job not only knew about the change, he knew about the trumpet:

Thou shalt call, and I will answer Thee: Thou wilt have a desire to the work of Thine hands.” (Job 14:14-15)

There are those who argue that the Rapture is a recent doctrine, invented by J. N. Darby or by a Scottish epileptic named Margaret MacDonald.  The Rapture isn’t a recent invention, it predates both Christianity and Judaism.

Genesis and Jude confirm that Enoch, seventh from Adam, was also raptured.  Job expects to hear God call him at the appointed time.   The Apostle Paul addressed the same doctrine two thousand years later.

“For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds . . ” (1st Thessalonians 4:16)

And now we’re talking about it two thousand years after that — as if it were some unproven doctrinal supposition subject to interpretation.

It wasn’t merely supposition to Job — to whom the Flood was still a recent memory.

“For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.”  (Job 19:25)

That is a pretty amazing statement of faith, dated as it is to a thousand years before Moses and two thousand years before Christ.

“And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:26)

The Sadducees were still debating the resurrection of the dead with Jesus two thousand years after Job stated it as fact.  That Job was referring to the resurrection of his own physical body, and not referring to some spiritual equivalent is made plain.

“Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:27)

So will mine.  I’ll be there, too.  And I’m sorta looking forward to meeting Job.

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:” (2nd Peter 1:19)

Note: This Letter was originally published July 27, 2009.  “Change at the appointed time”.  Maranatha!

Imagine

Imagine
Vol: 142 Issue: 13 Saturday, July 13, 2013

Recently, I spent a few days in New York City with my family. One of the guided tours we took was through Central Park and one of the scheduled stops was at the Strawberry Fields memorial for murdered ex-Beatle John Lennon. The memorial is often laden with flowers arranged in the shape of a peace symbol although it wasn’t on this occasion.

Some of the other tourists had obviously looked forward to seeing it with some degree of anticipation. Some of them even lay on their backs on the mosaic floor and took photos of the overhanging trees from that position. I searched a few of the faces and thought I detected a certain amount of solemn reverence for Lennon.

On December the 8th 1980, a typical headline read:

“Former Beatle John Lennon has been shot dead by an unknown gunman who opened fire outside the musician’s New York apartment. The 40-year-old was shot several times as he entered the Dakota, his luxury apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, opposite Central Park, at 2300 local time.”

Although I was never a Beatles fan I can remember exactly what I was doing and the shock that ran through my mind when someone told me John Lennon had just been murdered outside his hotel. I can say the same thing for John F Kennedy, Elvis Presley and Princess Diana.

One of Lennon’s most famous and iconic albums was “Imagine“. Just about everyone I knew rushed out to get a copy on its release. My friends played it incessantly and the lyrics haunted me because, among other problems, I was working through a crisis of faith in my life. I think John Lennon was as well.

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

I resented those lyrics. I wanted a Heaven. I couldn’t understand why everyone liked that song. Doesn’t everyone want a Heaven?

I guess if neither a heaven nor hell exists, there are no consequences. In hindsight, most of my friends would have digested anything Lennon produced, yet he also struck a chord and influenced what the younger generation was thinking.

The album was released in 1971 and the Vietnam War ended in 1975. Lennon was speaking to concerns about war and the draft. The song also affirmed the new-found sexual freedom and drug experimentation that my friends were indulging in.

Imagine that there were no countries; no one to kill or die for or no religion to tell you what to do. Life would be great then wouldn’t it?

I was a Lennon skeptic even though he is still remembered as a great peace activist by his ardent fans. In the real world you could try to “give peace a chance”. But if the other party wanted to clobber you just for the sake of it, you had no peace regardless of how many times you sung that song.

The school yard taught me that lesson.

It was a catchy slogan then and many still subscribe to it now. Sadly Lennon’s tragic death demonstrates that peace can only be realized when everyone equally wants it. Today’s Middle East crisis is a perfect example.

While researching Lennon, I came across information which is, arguably, of disputable accuracy. His fans claim that he’d often been misunderstood, especially regarding his controversial statement about Jesus’ popularity. But what’s obvious to me is that, despite the lyrics in “Imagine” and all the contradictions in his life, he was actually searching for some deeper meaning. I can even see some parallels in my own life.

Raised as a “nominal Christian” Lennon had no faith in organized religion and briefly sought meaning in other systems like the New Age and the Occult, just like I did. One famous and short-lived encounter was with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Author Robert Rosen claims that Lennon’s interest in the occult was largely due to Yoko Ono’s influence.

According to Rosen:

“There is absolutely no question that Yoko got him into all of the occult stuff because she was very into it. She believed in numerology and astrology in part because these are Japanese traditions.”

Regardless of how he got into it, I was surprised to learn that he once considered Christianity. Christianity Today cites excerpts from a book “The Gospel According to the Beatles” by Steve Turner. Given to spending long hours watching television, Lennon was exposed to the likes of Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, Jim Bakker, and Oral Roberts. He reached out to Oral Roberts.

Turner records that Roberts communicated with Lennon via letters and sent him his book “Miracle of Seed Faith”. The correspondence didn’t seem to take affect until the spring of 1977 when Lennon announced to his friends that he had become a born-again Christian. Yoko did not approve. Turner claims that he became antagonistic to her and told her that she’d been blinded by Satan. In turn, Yoko felt that the situation compromised Lennon’s dependency on her and her occultism.

During long, passionate arguments she attacked the key points of his fledgling faith. They met with a couple of Norwegian missionaries whom Yoko questioned fiercely about the divinity of Christ, knowing that this was the teaching that John had always found the most difficult to accept. Their answers didn’t satisfy her, and John began to waver in his commitment.

It didn’t take Lennon long to recant. The song “You Saved My Soul” was Lennon’s last unreleased recording and an ode to Ono.

When I was lonely and scared
I nearly fell for a TV preacher
In a hotel room in Tokyo
Oh only you truly saved me from that suicide

Turner states that, later, Lennon became “incensed” with Bob Dylan’s song “Gotta Serve Somebody” because it opposed his view that there was no single truth.

The song said, as bluntly as possible, that whatever your station in life, you were either serving God or the devil. This wasn’t an avoidable choice. John wrote a riposte titled “Serve Yourself,” arguing that no one can save you. The only person you have to serve is yourself.

The problem is that if there is no single truth then my truth might be that John’s truth is a lie. And if the only person I have to serve is myself then it would seem to contradict at least some of the lyrics in Lennon’s “Imagine” having no possessions; a brotherhood of man; sharing the world; and the world living as one.

“Serve Yourself” strongly reminds me of Aleister Crowley’s, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.” That philosophy is the antithesis of Christ’s teaching.

It’s not hard to see why Lennon rejected Christianity.

John Lennon is gone. I don’t want to judge his final hours but I believe his life was tragic, quite apart from his untimely death and despite the success and adulating fans. It’s a pity so many people have looked to him for inspiration and answers that he didn’t have.

John Lennon isn’t imagining anymore. 


Today’s Letter was written by Alf Cengia

What’s So Great About Heaven?

What’s So Great About Heaven?
Vol: 142 Issue: 12 Friday, July 12, 2013

It think it fair to say that most unbelievers are motivated to come to Christ more by the fear of going to hell than they are by the promise of heaven.  It was certainly true in my case.

I’d heard about heaven all my life.  An eternity of praise and worship and singing . . . ummm, an eternity?  (My enthusiasm starts to wane a bit.) 

But given the alternative. . . heaven sounds just great!

It is that comparison that motivated me to seek salvation.  By itself, Heaven sounded a lot like an eternal church service.  But truth to tell, I’m good for about an hour in church before I start squirming in my seat.

It was fear of the alternative that drove me to my knees.  Perhaps that might be why the Bible has more to say about hell than it does about heaven. 

Here’s what we know about hell, and the Lake of Fire to come after that. 

Luke 16:19-31 reveals that in hell, one has no name.  Abraham is mentioned by name. So is Lazarus.  But the rich man is not named.  What good is a name when nobody will ever call it again?  In hell, while you have no identity, you know who you were.

The rich man remembered his father and five brothers.  His memories are intact.  In hell, one is tormented by flame.  The rich man begged for a drop of water to cool his burning tongue.

We addressed the three-fold nature of man in detail in Volume 123, Issue: 20 during our discussion of the death of Kim Jong il.

In life, the body is the sensory input station for the soul.  The soul also receives input from the spirit, after it has been regenerated at salvation, but the soul’s primary source of input is still physical; sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

Absent the body, the spirit becomes the eyes and ears, so to speak of the soul.  The body’s sensory gates close, but the spirit’s sensory gates swing wide-open.  We (that is, the soul, the part that makes you ‘you’) remains aware of what is going on. 

So when you die, the spirit functions much as the body did, as the primary sensory gateway into the soul.   The soul of a person that dies unregenerate, like the rich man of Luke 16, has lost its physical sensory input.  His spirit is dark, dead, and incapable of getting any spiritual input.

He is conscious and aware, like the rich man, but he is buried in hell where the only input he gets is burning pain.  

That lost soul will have his physical sensory input restored to him just before being cast alive into the Lake of Fire.  There, he will be deprived of spiritual comfort, since his spirit is dead, but his resurrection body will be eternally alive.

Brrrr!  Considering the alternative, suddenly the idea of eternal church sounds, well, heavenly.  

Isn’t it interesting that heaven is practically impossible to imagine, while the image of hell is not only easy to grasp, it is almost impossible to erase from one’s mind?

Assessment:

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

Heaven sounds boring because we can only imagine it through our own eyes and from our own, earthly perspective.  What can we learn about heaven that we can sink our teeth into, the way that the concept of hell tends to seek its teeth into us?

First, the Bible tells us that heaven is the spiritual realm in which God’s Presence is manifest.  It is the dwelling place of the angels of God and of all believers that have gone on before. (Hebrews 10:22-24)

Because it is the place where God dwells, heaven must consist of many more dimensions than just the three we can comprehend.  The Apostle Paul reports an out-of-body experience in which he describes heaven.

“How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:4)

Since Paul said it occurred “fourteen years ago” he is referring to his own conversion experience on the road to Damascus, (as he admits in  v. 7). 

Whatever Paul saw, it made him long for more. 

Here and elsewhere, the Bible confirms the truth that there is no cessation of consciousness at death, no “soul sleep.”

We have the testimony of the Lord Himself, when He said to the thief on the Cross, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

When our physical inputs shut down and our souls leave our bodies, they are immediately present with the Lord: 

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul re-confirms, from his own experience, that when we depart, we go to be with the Lord.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . .  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” (Philippians 1:21,23)

The Bible reveals that when we get to heaven, our spiritual nature changes.  The dual nature of man exists only until the carnal part dies.  What we have now is ‘imputed’ righteousness, whereas in heaven our hope of righteousness is realized.

The Apostle John says that when we see Jesus, we shall be like Him as we are transformed.  When we do, we will be purified from sin and eternally bonded to Him. 

We cannot imagine heaven, we can only compare it to earth and all its beauty and wonderment, remembering that the earth is the universe’s garbage dump.

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

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

Think of our beautiful planet.  Try to imagine what it must have been like when it was still pristine and pure, back when Adam walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening.  

When Satan and his crew were cast from heaven, they were cast to the earth, what the theologians call the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ or literally, a world of evil.

To Satan and the rebellious angels that actually have seen heaven, it was the worst place they could imagine — a place of involuntary and horrific exile.  The elect angels share that opinion: 

“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)

The angels know what that sinner has just escaped from. Jesus also describes what we become in eternity in Luke 20:36,

“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

Paul tells us that we will receive new, immortal bodies at the Rapture:  

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

But first, our loved ones who have gone on before get theirs.  Then we who are alive and remain get ours.  

“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)

Despite being changed, we will recognize one another. (1 Corinthians 15:49) Together with those we love, we will meet with the Lord in the air, and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 

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

This Letter was originally published December 30, 2011

Today’s Featured Commentary: Begin again Eygpt?

Confessions of a Christian Bigot

Confessions of a Christian Bigot
Vol: 142 Issue: 11 Thursday, July 11, 2013

It would appear, based on the opinion of most non-Christians (who seem to be the ones with the loudest opinion on the subject) that not including Mormonism among the pantheon of Christian denominations is evidence of Christian bigotry.

What, exactly, is a “bigot”?  According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a “bigot” is:

a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

It occurs to me that, for a native English speaking writer, I sure find it necessary to go to the dictionary an awful lot.  Here lately, words tend to mean what the speaker wants them to mean, regardless of what they actually mean and the more they are misused, the more popular they get.

Take “Islamophobia” for example.  According to the dictionary, that word should mean “an unwarranted and unreasonable fear of Islam.”   

Indeed, this is where you get to see the non-dictionary definition of bigotry used in a sentence, while at the same time, redefining “phobia” as in, “Islamophobia is anti-Muslim bigotry.”

I am a Christian.  Everywhere that Islam has ever spread over the course of its history, things go badly for Christians. Under secular Egyptian President Hosni Murbarak, Egyptian Christians had it pretty good.

But when Obama chucked Murbarak under the bus in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood, he chucked Egypt’s Coptic Christian population under the bus with him.

Where Islam rules, Christians are either persecuted, or officially tolerated as “dhimmis.” When Mubarak ran Egypt, Egypt wasn’t ruled by Islam, and so Egypt’s Christian minority didn’t need to apply for dhimmi status.

And so, when about 100,000 Coptic Egyptian Christians gathered in peaceful protest and to stage a sit-in outside the Egyptian state television building along the Nile, on Sunday, October 9, 2011, they were unprepared for what happened next. 

They were there to protest the burning of a Christian church by an Islamic mob, while government police and firefighters stood idly by and did nothing. Naively, they expected that by gathering in such large numbers, they would make their voices heard. 

Instead, all that was heard was the screams of the wounded and dying as they were set upon by hundreds of plain-clothed thugs, backed up by police vehicles and tanks that scaled sidewalks and deliberately rolled over protestors, killing dozens.

Recent fatwas issued by top Muslim religious leaders such as the Sheikh of Al Azhar and the Grand Mufti, maintained that Christians are infidels, thus making Christians and their churches subject to religious cleansing by Muslims, since Egyptian Christians don’t pay the dhimmi tax.

According to Islam’s apologists, “dhimmi” is a “protected status” within Islam.  That sounds nice.

“Protected status” as a dhimmi means that instead of being valued at only 1/16th that of a Muslim, like other infidels, a dhimmi is valued at ½ a Muslim. 

The ‘protection’ afforded a dhimmi is that in exchange for paying a tax, a dhimmi can practice those parts of his religion that don’t conflict with Islam and he cannot be killed by Muslims out-of-hand. 

But if a dhimmi is killed, his life is not valued as equal to a Muslim, so the punishment for killing a dhimmi is reduced accordingly.

Dhimmis are forbidden to participate in the political process.  But at least “dhimmi” is an Arabic word.  So as near as I can tell, “Islamophobia” can’t actually be an English word, since it is neither an unwarranted NOR unreasonable fear of Islam. 

Not if one is a Christian, that is.

Bigot is an English word to describe unreasonable intolerance.  So “Islamophobic bigotry” only makes sense if Christians are unreasonably intolerant of their potential destruction at the hands of the people who are currently destroying Christians in Egypt.

Assessment:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3)

I learned over this past weekend that I am not only an Islamophobe, but I am also an anti-Mormon bigot because I was less outraged than many about Pastor Robert Jeffress’ comment to his church congregation (!!) that Mormonism is not a Christian faith, but instead, a cult.

Well, I guess that means that I am an Islamophobic bigot because I do not believe that the God that taught turning the other cheek is the same god that exhorts its followers to kill Christians for practicing their faith. Doctrines, like other things that are different, are NOT the same.

But because I do not believe that Allah is the God of the Bible, despite the fact that Allah’s doctrines, nature, character, practices and commandments are not the same as those revealed about the God of the Bible, I am an infidel who can be killed for blasphemy against a religion I’ve never been part of.

And because I don’t think that is a great idea, I am unreasonably intolerant, ipso facto, an Islamophobic bigot!  And on Sunday, I learned that unless I accept the doctrines of Mormonism as being Christian doctrines, I am also a bigot. 

Notice that I don’t have to DO anything to be an anti-Mormon bigot. I simply have to NOT change my religious beliefs to accommodate those I don’t believe are true.

To be removed from the anti-Mormon bigot list, all I have to do is pretend that;

  • I accept that God may have once been a man on the planet Kolob,  
  • that Jesus may have been Satan’s smarter brother,
  • that the Trinity is a false doctrine, 
  • that there are seven resurrections,
  • that Jesus came to America to convert the Jews here, and;
  • that He turned the Indians brown for not believing in him.

Oh, and that America is really the Promised Land, the Jews of Israel are usurpers, Independence, Missouri is the new Jerusalem and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, despite not meeting any of the Biblical criteria for such an office.

Instead, I learned I was a bigot by no less than Republican heavyweight (no pun intended) Bill Bennett who explained at, of all places, the “Values Voters Summit” that MY Christian values, such as the right to decide for myself what I believe is Christian doctrine, is actually anti-Mormon bigotry.

“Do not give voice to bigotry,” Bennett told the audience, before offering a few open comments addressed to Pastor Jeffress:

“You stepped on and obscured the words of Perry and (former Sen. Rick) Santorum and (businessman Herman) Cain and (Rep. Michele) Bachmann and everyone else who has spoken here. You did Rick Perry no good, sir, in what you had to say.”

The Washington Post featured an editorial penned by John Mark Reynolds under the headline, “Why Evangelicals Must Stand Up to Anti-Mormon Bigotry.” It makes for fascinating reading.  

According to non-bigoted evangelicals like him, claiming Mormonism is not evangelical, that Mormons are not born again, and that Mormonism is a cult is, and I am quoting:

“bigotry buttressed by irrelevance fortified with invincible ignorance.”

Ok, so I guess I am a bigot. (But at least my ignorance is powerful, even if my faith is meaningless.) 

Mormonism isn’t just NOT evangelical, it is no more Christian than is Islam.  I heard one Mormon apologist on Fox News claim that Mormonism is Christian because it has Jesus Christ in its official long-form name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The long form name for Communist China is The People’s Republic of China. The long form name for North Korea is The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Does that make them democratic republics?

If I adopt the title, Emperor of the Known Universe, does it mean I can impose taxes?

It is not bigotry to say that a faith that denies the most basic of all Christian doctrines according to all the mainstream canons of Christianity, qualifies as a non-Christian cult.  That isn’t bigotry. It is theology.

Islam also claims the God of Abraham and acknowledges the existence of a religious figure named “Jesus” (or Isa).  But it is not bigotry to say Islam’s Jesus, who was not born of a virgin and did not die on the Cross, is a different Jesus and that Islam is therefore a different religion than Christianity.

Calling it ‘bigotry’ is an effort to bully Christianity into accepting a false god and a false doctrine into their own faith.  

It is no less than a demand that the rest of Christianity accept Mormon doctrine as Christian without regard to the tenets of their own faith.

Christianity is not like the rules of membership in the Boy Scouts. One can’t sue one’s way there. One cannot bully one’s way into being regarded as Christian by name-calling.   One cannot kick open the doors of Christianity and demand admission under one’s own terms.

If Christianity is real, then it has its own, unique identity.  It has its own unique doctrines, practices, beliefs, theories and views concerning the Godhead – those views being what defines Christianity as Christian.  

If Christianity isn’t a real faith based on real events, then of course you can modify it as necessary to make it more politically acceptable.

That is all that the Romans demanded of Christian converts in the 1st century. “Just modify it a little bit so that it isn’t so exclusive . . .”  Is that so unreasonable?

Mormon theology denies the existence of the Trinity, which deviates from mainstream Christian doctrine.  Mormon doctrine on salvation deviates from accepted doctrine of salvation by grace through faith.   

Mormon doctrine concerning the nature of the Father and the Deity of the Son bears no resemblance to mainstream Christian doctrine. 

Refusing to change one’s own doctrine in order to accommodate somebody else’s is not bigotry.  But that is nothing less than what is being demanded here. 

It is no different, in substance, than what the antichrist will demand in return for being allowed to participate in his system.

A different Jesus is not the same Jesus as the Founder of Christianity.  A different Jesus cannot be ‘folded in’ to mainstream Christianity to create a more Americanized version — without replacing the Jesus that already exists there.

It is not bigotry to say, “This is not the Jesus that I know.”  To accuse a Christian of bigotry because he cannot throw his own faith under the bus in order to accommodate someone else’s is a form of religious coercion on their part, not bigotry on the part of the faithful.

A different doctrine cannot be inserted into existing Christian doctrine by political decree.  It is not bigotry to say, “I cannot accept this doctrine as Christian without admitting my own faith is meaningless and can be molded and reshaped as the politics of the day demands.”

It is not phobia to fear those that are dedicated to your destruction, whether it be physical or religious.

The Mormon Jesus is not the same as the Jesus worshipped by Christians.  It is not bigotry to recognize that things that are different are not the same. 

But it is lunacy to pretend that they are.

Note:  There is a lot of white noise in the media at current.  Today’s Letter was published almost two years ago.  Looking at recent history, we can see how society is being systematically dismantled and conditioned to accept exactly what the Bible prophesied.

Today’s Featured Commentary: Lyme Aid

Speaking of Excrement And Fans. . .

Speaking of Excrement And Fans. . .
Vol: 142 Issue: 10 Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our column on “Doomsday Preppers” sparked something of a debate about whether or not Christians should be prepping for what is coming our way, or if making preparations in some way betrays a lack of faith.

It also appears to have given the impression that I come down on the side of those that believe making preparations demonstrates a lack of faith, so let me address that first.   

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Timothy 5:8)

It is not a lack of faith to make provision for one’s family.  Quite the opposite.  The Scripture mandates it.  Paul characterizes the failure to provide for one’s family as a denial of the faith.  This means more than providing a home and daily bread, or paying child support.  

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. . .” (Ephesians 5:25)

What does Paul mean by, He “gave Himself for it”?  Obviously, the Lord died for the Church when He died for the sins of the world.  But the Lord didn’t just die for the Church, He lived for it. 

He spent His every waking moment providing for His Church, nurturing, teaching, feeding and preparing  them for what was to come upon them, as well as preparing us for what is to come upon us.  

His death was only part of how He provided for us.

“For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Romans 5:10)

To provide for His Church, He lived, died and rose again.  We are commanded to emulate Christ when providing for our families and to do less makes one “worse than an infidel”.

So let me make this point clearly before moving on: I believe we should prepare for the coming storm with all the resources at our disposal.   It is not evidence of a lack of faith.  Any more than laying down in the middle of a freeway at rush hour is a demonstration of faith.   

I have faith that the Lord will return for me before the onset of the Tribulation Period, but I have no reason to believe that, (to quote the New York Times’ reference) the event involving excrement and a fan won’t happen until after the Rapture.

I have made my own “bug-out” plans in the event it becomes necessary.  We are also stockpiling food and other necessary supplies, just in case.  Plus a whole lot of other measures that I’d rather not put into print.

But my plan is limited to surviving until the Rapture. 

Assessment:

The Bible predicts the Rapture will take place before the antichrist takes the reins of government, (2nd Thessalonians 2:7-8) but nowhere can I find where the Rapture takes place before anything bad happens. 

Just that the Rapture happens before that one, specific bad event takes place.

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see.  And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. “(Revelation  6:1-2

There is no reference to any nation resembling the United States during the Tribulation Period.  Given the state of national affairs under Obama, there is almost no nation resembling the United States right now. 

No wonder there are reality shows like “Doomsday Preppers.”  But being fearful doesn’t equate with being faithless.

Fear is a natural, God-given emotion, and is one of mankind’s most basic survival tools.  Pain hurts, so that we fear it, and therefore, we are careful not to damage ourselves.

It is the fear of pain that makes us run from danger, preserving our lives.  Without fear, few of us would survive to adulthood.

The Bible doesn’t tell us not to fear so much as it teaches us how to redirect our fear.  Jesus said to fear not those who can destroy the body, but rather to fear Him Who can destroy the soul. 

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalms 23:4)

“Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea . . .” (Psalms 46:2)

“In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” (Psalms 56:4)

So, if scary news scares us, does that mean that we are faithless Christians?  No.  There is a difference between being scared from time to time and living in fear.

“Sudden fear” comes upon us all, saved and unsaved alike.  Don’t let it worry you.  It’s part of our existence in this world. We all get scared.  We may not be of this world, but we are in it.  

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.” (Proverbs 3:25-26)

What is the purpose for Bible prophecy if not to give the warning to prepare for what is to come?   

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

The things the Lord is referring to are the same things that Doomsday preppers are making preparations for.  That’s the bad part.   

But these events also mean that the Lord is also making preparations to return for His Church.  That’s the good part.

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

This Letter was originally published April 19, 2012

Today’s Featured Commentary: Pre-Wrath Debunked Part I

God’s Grace

God’s Grace
Vol: 142 Issue: 9 Tuesday, July 9, 2013

There is a wonderful hymn published at the turn of the 20th century that proclaims, ”Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin.”

I’m sure most of you have sung these words at some point or another, but have you ever truly contemplated their meaning?

“Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!” 

We sing it, but do we really believe it? More importantly, do we really UNDERSTAND it?

Wrote the Psalmist,

“My mouth shall speak of wisdom; and the meditation of my heart shall be of understanding.” (Psalms 49:3)

What is wisdom? Psalms 111:10 says that,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”

Solomon noted that;

“Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom,” before admonishing us; “and with all thy getting get understanding.” (Proverbs 4:7)

But how does one make the leap from ‘wisdom’ to ‘understanding’?

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)

“Wisdom and instruction”, applied together, produce knowledge.

“When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee.” (Proverbs 2:10-11)

One can, therefore, express it as a Divine equation: Wisdom + Knowledge = Understanding.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” (Proverbs 9:10)

‘Wisdom’ is the product of ‘fear’ (or reverence) of the Lord (as expressed in His Word). Out of His Revealed Word comes ‘knowledge’, which, when applied with ‘wisdom’ gives birth to ‘understanding’.

Note well that it is ‘understanding’ that the Lord says will KEEP thee.

It is the ‘wisdom’ to recognize oneself as a sinner in need of salvation taken together with instruction that Christ has extended a free pardon for one’s sin’s that result in the extension of God’s grace, which produces saving faith.

Proverbs 19:8a says,

“He that getteth wisdom loveth his own soul, he that keepeth understanding shall find good.”

I don’t think the first part of that verse is an inaccurate statement, although it tends to take the wind out of our sails a bit when we think about it.

I prefer to think of my coming to Christ as an expression of my love for Him — but when I am as honest as Solomon was, and teachable enough to know wisdom when I hear it, I understand that my reason for turning to Christ was love of MY soul. (The wisdom to love Him came later.)

But note well that, to ‘find good’ out of wisdom, one must apply ‘understanding’.

Assessment:

Whenever I tackle the topic of ‘Amazing Grace’ some of the forum comments and emails suggest there are still many misunderstandings, particularly about the way I articulate the doctrine of grace.

I don’t mind revisiting it as often as necessary, as long as you don’t mind revisiting it with me.

The Bible instructs us to strive for perfection. To sin no more. To be perfect, even as the Father is perfect. That our every waking moment should be dedicated to God. (“Sell all you have, pick up your Cross and follow Me.”) To pray without ceasing.

That certain sins really drive God nuts;

“These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

And I have knowledge that I am occasionally guilty of pride, sloth, gluttony, mischief, etc., — just as before I was saved. (Moreover, my personal observations tell me I am not alone among believers in this regard).

Now we turn to the concept of ‘grace’.

“Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24)

Further, Paul writes;

“All things are lawful for me” but then says, “but all things are not expedient.” (1st Corinthians 10:23)

Few argue the Bible doesn’t teach salvation as an unearned gift extended to all who will receive it. But then they stumble over the idea of eternal security as a ‘license to sin’.

I don’t mean to sound pompous in saying this reflects wisdom, but without understanding. And it is ‘understanding’ that the Lord says is what will ‘keep’ you.

They argue that the doctrine of eternal security turns the Bible into a book of ‘suggestions’. I’ve been accused of endorsing sin. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Wisdom plus knowledge equals understanding.

I reverence God’s Word, which tells me that sin is man’s natural state of being. Paul’s explanation of the dual nature of man in Romans 7 confirms to me that the struggle with sin after salvation is as common to all men as it was to Paul.

It was the wisdom to love my own soul that brought me to the point of salvation, and the knowledge of grace and the dual nature of man that brought me to the understanding of grace.

Paul wrote,

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, ACCORDING AS GOD HATH DEALT TO EVERY MAN THE MEASURE OF FAITH.” (Romans 12:3)

Wisdom (God’s Word) says that some struggle more with sin than do others, and that God deals out different measures of faith to each of us according to His will.

I think it fair to say we are pretty forgiving of ourselves. Sometimes, we can come up with pretty convincing reasons for falling at the moment we did.

That isn’t to suggest the reasons justify the fall, but we extend to ourselves the grace to pick ourselves up, and try again. Wisdom plus knowledge go out the window once we assume God is less forgiving of us than we are of ourselves.

God’s grace is perfect and all sufficient. If God’s grace didn’t extend to our post-salvation sins, then the only ones who would be in heaven would be those who died at the point of salvation.

Legalism dictates that God demands perfection, settles for minor imperfection, and revokes salvation from those whose imperfection crosses some invisible line.

Remember the story of the 300 lb preacher reminding his congregation that smoking is defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit?

Smoking isn’t among God’s Seven Deadly Sins — but on that list, the glutton sits right there beside the drunkard. Are fat people habitual, unrepentant sinners who have condemned themselves? Or does God extend His grace to us according to our individual (and God-given) weaknesses or strengths?

I have the wisdom of Scripture that tells me that a holy God cannot countenance sin. That wisdom also tells me that, in God’s eyes, all sin is sin, and there are seven that God hates with a particular passion, habitual sins that, barring God’s grace, condemn as unrepentent; fat people, lazy people, gossips and drunks. I also have knowledge of human nature from personal observation. I have intimate knowledge of myself and my own shortcomings.

Applied with a knowledge — but without an understanding — of grace, it tells me that my own salvation must depend on my first accepting Christ and then, never sinning again.

I came to Christ thirty-five years ago. I am sure I have sinned in the last thirty-five years. Wisdom plus knowledge — but devoid of understanding — therefore dictates that I am already lost and without hope — so why bother even trying?

“Grace” is not a license to sin, it is Divine permission to get back up and try again. Sin is burdensome because it tends to pile up so fast. Soon, it becomes so heavy you CAN’T get back up on your own.

The burden is lifted by the grace of God so that we can get back up, heal our wounds and return to battle. Grace is not license to sin. It is medicine to heal and bandages to cover our sin so we can fight on.

Understanding grace is to understand what Paul meant when he told the Galatians,

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

This classic Letter from Jack was like finding an oasis in the desert.  It’s sometimes difficult to remember reading the news of this sin sick world that God’s Grace is Great news.  To continue with these glad tidings we found this rendition of “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” that is sure to brighten your day. 

Today’s Featured Commentary: A Matter of Life and Death