Only God Can Make a Mouse

Only God Can Make a Mouse
Vol: 153 Issue: 30 Monday, June 30, 2014

Mankind can build computers that can calculate at speeds of billions of calculations per second. Following Moore’s Law, by this time next year, the year after at the most, computers capable of making trillions of calculations per second will be routine.

But the smartest computers conceivable, despite the dizzying heights already achieved, pale beside the capabilities of a flesh-and-blood brain.

Consider, for a second, what is involved in reading this Omega Letter. Your eyes scan the page, recognizing words, assembling the symbols they represent in your mind, to create a mental image.

Computers can read, they can process the symbols the words represent, and may even be able to reproduce a corresponding image, but they cannot CREATE an image.

Five people can read the same passage, and all five of them will get something different from it. No matter how sophisticated the machine, it can only process the raw data.

No passage of Scripture, no poem, no novel, no work of art can move or inspire a computer. Researchers at IBM attempted to simulate the ability of a flesh-and-blood brain by using a computer recently.

A team from the IBM Almaden Research Lab, working with the University of Nevada, ran a simulation on a BlueGene L supercomputer that had 4,096 processors, each one of which used 256MB of memory.

Not to simulate a human brain. They set their sights on simulating one of God’s simplest creations. They tried to simulate the brain of a mouse.

Using the most sophisticated computer systems on the face of the planet, the best they could do was simulate half a mouse’s brain.

Half.

According to the researchers, teaching a computer to be as half as smart as a mouse puts, “tremendous constraints on computation, communication and memory capacity of any computing platform”.

The simulation ran for only ten seconds — at a speed ten times slower — meaning this vast collection of computer hardware and software took ten seconds to process what takes a real mouse less than a second to absorb.

Four thousand and ninety-six supercomputers, strung together. And the best that all those computers could do was simulate an extremely retarded mouse.

Assessment:

Think about it. A mouse can’t write a symphony. Or design a new car. Or tie a shoelace. An extremely brilliant mouse can figure out how to push a button to gain access to a piece of cheese.

IBM’s retarded mouse brain would take ten seconds to figure out that there WAS a piece of cheese. Another ten seconds to process how to push the button. And it could NEVER figure out that it was hungry, let alone that a mouse prefers cheese to, say, a rock.

Yet there are idiots who would argue that life is the product of random chance.

These same idiots find no inconsistency in the fact that thousands of humans working feverishly for thousands of hours, programming thousands of supercomputers, were barely able to simulate the mental capacity of a retarded mouse with a simulated frontal lobotomy.

And, when successfully simulating even half a mouse’s brain working ten times as slowly as a real mouse, almost crashing the computer in the process, the simple accomplishment of simulating one of God’s least brilliant creatures is hailed as a major scientific achievement.

They can’t simulate even a whole mouse’s brain, let alone a smart one, but the human brain that conceived of the computer in the first place, they argue, came into being by accident, a product of random chance with no Designer.

“I will praise Thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are Thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Psalms 139:14)

Three thousand years ago, before modern technology mapped the human genome, before modern medicine had any explanation for what it is that makes us tick, the Psalmist knew, “in his soul” that his existence could not have been the product of random chance.

Everything about life is unique and beyond the scope of human comprehension. NASA once estimated that it would cost a billion dollars to ‘build’ a tree.

Yet from a tiny acorn, the mighty oak doth grow, said the poet. The humanist would argue that man is his own supreme being, and that the world is what we make of it.

Really? Build a tree. Assemble an elephant. Or, even a mouse. Even half a mouse.

Even half a RETARDED mouse.

Featured Commentary: Enoch, Noah, the Church, and Israel ~ Pete Garcia

Proving All Things In The Age Of Information Overload

Proving All Things In The Age Of Information Overload
Vol: 153 Issue: 28 Saturday, June 28, 2014

”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.

God’s Word On It . . .

God’s Word On It . . .
Vol: 153 Issue: 27 Friday, June 27, 2014

I am always amused at the skeptics’ claim that there is no proof that God exists.  What they really mean is there is no proof they are willing to accept, not that is there no proof.

The Bible is more than simply proof of God’s existence — it is the written contract between God and man that bears His signature.  Bible prophecy is that signature.

Science can now duplicate or explain many of the miracles of Scripture. No doubt that if the Lord tarries, we will learn to duplicate many more.  But there is one miracle of Scripture that no conceivable scientific breakthrough could ever duplicate.

Because the future belongs to God, only God can know what it will be before it happens.  No other deity or sacred writing has that distinction  — and that, I believe, is by Divine design.

God challenges the pretenders, saying;

“Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.” (Isaiah 41:23)

Consider the difficulties in describing, 2500 years in advance, the geopolitical alliances of the 21st century. It was only 70 years ago that the world was at war. The alliances described by Ezekiel didn’t even exist until this generation.

It was from the ashes of the Holocaust that the nation of Israel was reborn, setting events in motion for the Final Confrontation to come.   Seventy years . . . seven hundred years. . . seventeen hundred years. . . double that — it makes no difference.

Every single event in every single generation from the day God revealed the future HAD to be exactly in order.  What if Hitler’s maternal great-great-grandmother had died at birth? Would the Holocaust have occurred?

Would Israel now exist on that narrow strip along the Meditterranean?

Or would the Jews of Europe still be content in their homes and businesses, as they had been before Hitler’s madness?  Without that single life what would the world look like today?

The Scriptures say that the ‘hairs on your head are numbered’ — multiply that times every single person who ever lived. Every single one of them had free will choices and the choices made by our ancestors, no matter how far back we go, shaped the world we live in today.

Imagine picking out the winning team in the 2234 World Series? Who knows if we’ll even still play baseball?

But the Hebrew prophets named alliances between nations that didn’t exist in their world, and in some cases, didn’t exist until this generation.

Let’s examine just ten of the prophecies of ancient times that are in the process of fulfillment in this generation.

1. ‘Take heed that no man deceive you’ “And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the 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? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” (Matthew 24:3-4)

It’s often been said that the ‘devil’s greatest trick is convincing people that he doesn’t exist’. Deception has been raised in this generation to an art form. We expect to be deceived by our politicians, our entertainment, advertisers and the media.

Right now, the President of the United States is in Copenhagen stumping for a global ‘cap and trade’ system which,  when you get right down to it, is nothing less than a tax on air!

Deception?  Not us.  This is the 21st century! We’re too smart to be easily deceived.

2. An increase in the frequency and intensity of wars. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. ” (24:6)

World War I and World War II were cataclysmic events that shaped the 20th century, but they were domestic disputes in comparison with what World War Three with the Soviet Union would have looked like. For fifty years, the two sides were locked in ideological combat in what history calls the Cold War.

Every morning for fifty years, each side woke up wondering if the Cold War would turn hot — the ultimate rumor of war — that ended only a decade ago. But, as Jesus noted, see that ye not be troubled, for the end is not yet. And it wasn’t.

3. The great “Falling Away“. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

The Alabama Courthouse tragedy in which the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court lost his job for refusing to uproot a monument to the 10 Commandments from the courthouse is just the most recent example. I needn’t waste column inches on other examples. You know them as well as I.

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

Until the beginning of the 20th century, very few commentaries existed on either Daniel or the Revelation. Both were considered to be filled with metaphors and symbolism. Even Calvin and Luther passed up the challenge. The words were ‘sealed UNTIL THE TIME OF THE END’.

For this generation, the mysteries of Daniel and Revelation are largely unlocked.

Columbus sailed to the New World 1500 years after the Apostle Paul made his Meditterranean journey. Both sailed on wooden ships equipped with sails, as did ships until the end of the 19th century.

One hundred years later, the same trip takes a few hours by air. It took 1900 years of technology to bring us from from Paul’s sailing ship to the ocean liner.

But it took only sixty-six years for technology to make the leap from the Wright brother’s first flight at Kitty Hawk to Neil Armstrong’s stroll on the surface of the moon.

Moore’s Law says that computer capacity doubles every 18 months. Knowledge is increasing at an exponential rate. There is technology being developed to make computers out of strands of DNA.

5. The Death of Love  “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12) — Anybody else notice how many parents are murdering their children lately? Each of you can make  a case for the increasing tolerance of sin and the collapsing moral structure of society as eloquently as I can.

6. The emergence of the antichrist. Daniel says that the antichrist’s seminal act of power will be to make peace between Israel and her neighbors. Until this generation, there was no Israel to be at war.  The world is crying for a leader who can solve global problems like climate change,  nuclear proliferation, the Middle East, terrorism and outlaw nations.

7. Earthquakes, Famines, Wars and PestilencesMatthew 24:7 speaks to all of these as being like labor pains — growing in intensity and frequency as the time approaches. Earthquake activity is demonstrably on the increase, while ethnic wars rage across Africa and entire populations face starvation at a time when rich countries are throwing leftovers in the garbage.

The entire sub-Saharan continent of Africa is facing extinction by the pestilence of AIDS — while the technology exists to arrest it.  We can make computers out of DNA strands, but the earthquakes, famines, wars and pestilences just keep getting more intense.

8. The Days of Noah and Lot (Matthew 24:37, Luke 17:28-30)

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5)

That wickedness is the hallmark of this age can be proved by picking up a newspaper.  What could be more wicked than deliberately blowing up a bus filled with children to make a political statement?

Television could be described as ‘imagination in a box’. We are entertained by vicariously participating in the story line. What entertains us the most? Based on the most popular TV series, NCIS, the CSI franchises, etc, the answer is undoubtedly murder, mayhem, war, destruction, occultic fantasy and sex.

Lot lived in Sodom, a place where homosexuality was rampant and widely accepted as an acceptable alternative lifestyle.  Today, there is actually a debate about the legitimacy of same-sex ‘marriage’ so profound it provoked the passage of the Defense of Marriage Act.

9. World-wide instantaneous communication  “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)

The Omega Letter membership spans the planet. We have subscribers in almost every developed country in the world.  I was looking at our website stats yesterday that ranks countries based on how many hits we receive from each.  The number one country for our visitors is the United States.  Number two is China.

There are literally thousands of Christian websites with the same global reach. Soon, there will be no corner of the earth that the Gospel has not penetrated. Jesus said that once that happens, THEN shall the end come.

10. Religious deception “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” (Matthew 24:24)

I could make a list of such deceivers. But so could you.

Bible prophecy is the Signature of God, the proof of His existence and the assurance we have of our salvation.

“So shall My word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

The King is coming!  We have God’s Word on it.

Featured Commentary: The Peace Activist Oxymoron ~ Alf Cengia

Faithfully Scared Witless

Faithfully Scared Witless
Vol: 153 Issue: 26 Thursday, June 26, 2014

You know, it’s a funny thing.  It is all the horrific events and uncertain finances and wars and tragedies that sap our excitement and fill us with dread when all the while, they are the very reason we got excited in the first place.

I mean, it was seeing these things begin to come to pass that grabbed our attention in the first place.

And as they grew closer and more intense, our excitement built up . . . but now, it has been sign after sign after sign . . . but no trumpet.

And suddenly, all these things, as exciting as they were, begin to take second place to worry; the mortgage market, our retirement accounts, whether war in the Middle East will drive gasoline prices through the roof – and what IF the Democrats win the White House again next year?

Counting on the Second Coming of Christ sounds so . . . well, you have to admit it . . . to most people, it is a bit like counting on a lottery ticket to fund one’s retirement.  And I suspect that the ones to whom it doesn’t probably still support Harold Camping.

We all say we’re counting on Jesus, but are still funding our IRA’s just in case.  We trust in the Lord, but we’re also making sure we’ve got some food reserves and other emergency supplies.  

We claim excitement at the return of the Lord as we see the signs of His coming, but we huddle in fear when it gets too close, just as unbelievers do.

We numb ourselves to the massive death tolls from catastrophic events by focusing in on the significance of the event from the perspective of Bible prophecy, compartmentalizing the horror of the actual event.  

It is only later we are suddenly staggered by the realization of what it really meant to the victims of horrific earthquakes, catastrophic tsunamis, murderous tornado clusters, etc..  

Are we faithless when we cower in fear when calamity comes too close?  Ghoulish when we rejoice from far away?  

These are strange days; one hardly knows what to think, given all that we know.  Who doesn’t flee to shelter at the approach of a coming storm? 

Trusting in the Lord doesn’t mean laying down on a freeway or standing in the path of a tornado.  Expecting His soon return doesn’t mean not preparing for one’s retirement.   

It doesn’t mean you don’t have to finish school.  It doesn’t mean you can quit your job, climb up to a hilltop and wait.  If that is what the Lord expected, He’d have been more specific about the timing.

Instead, our instructions are to behave as if the Lord was coming back tomorrow, but to plan as if He won’t come back in our lifetime.  Before He departed, He left us with two specific orders:

Preach the Word, and in the meanwhile, “occupy until I come”.

Assessment:

In a very real sense, the difference between a believer’s death and the Rapture is primarily one of process and timing.  Barring unforeseen calamity or early-onset disease, one can expect to die of disease or old age, usually in stages.

We don’t know when and we don’t know how, and most everybody has a different way of shuffling off this mortal coil, but we can all expect it.  For some, it will be a peaceful, natural process.

For others . . . well, we all have our own private horrors, ways that we pray won’t mark our transition.  

Nothing is more certain, as they say, than death (and taxes).

At the moment of death, our souls stop receiving input via the five physical senses (carnal) and we begin receiving our input via our spirit.

The Rapture is an entirely different process, which is why the Scriptures call it “the blessed hope.”  Like death, the Rapture could happen at any time, but unlike death, the process is both certain and beautiful.

The Lord Himself descends from Heaven with a shout and then we who are living are suddenly “caught up” (Gk: parousia Latin: rapios) to meet Him in the air.  On the way up, our bodies are transformed and instead of awakening eternally alive, we never have to go through the dying process in the first place.

The certainty is this: if you aren’t Raptured, you will die.  There isn’t a third option. 

Now to the central question; do you know when you will die?

There are those among our fellowship who are terminally ill – some who have even been given a time frame of how long they have left.

Even they have no more idea of the day and the hour of their deaths than they do of the day and hour of the Rapture.  My mother-in-law is approaching ninety, in fine physical health, still has all her marbles and reads five newspapers every day.

She knows her time could come any day, but she doesn’t try to divine the day or the hour.  She understands the futility of it.  She correctly believes she has about an equal chance of death or the Rapture.  

Now suppose that you knew exactly on what day you would die and at what time.  This year, Yom Kippur falls across September 13-14, so let’s say you knew you would die at 11:43 pm this September 13. 

How would your behavior change?  Would you become more spiritual?  Would you pray more?  Would you be more generous?  More thoughtful?  Kinder?  Friendlier?  More honest? 

Your behavior changes are sincere enough, but they are as genuine as the guy who never locks his doors suddenly locking them because of a rash of burglaries in his neighborhood. 

The change isn’t brought about by a sincere change of heart, but rather out of fear.  If the burglars were caught, he’d go back to his old habits.

“And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.” (Luke 12:39)

So we don’t know exactly when we will die.  And we don’t know exactly when the Rapture will occur.  And we don’t know these things for exactly the same reasons. 

We can know approximately when we will die – we can certainly know when it is close, and even at the doors.  And the Lord says that we can know approximately when the Rapture will happen – when it is close, even at the doors.  

I know approximately when I will die, assuming I take care of myself and live into old age.  That knowledge inspires me to take better care of myself.  And the older I get, the more inspired I become.

I know the Rapture is near, and that inspires me to preach the Word, give the warning, tell my friends, but not to empty my bank account, sell my house or quit my job.  

We are to occupy until He comes, planning our individual futures as if we could count on our full three score and ten, or even four score (or more) but to live out our lives the way we would if we knew He was coming tomorrow.

It is ok to be just as afraid of an approaching tornado as the unbeliever in the house next door. Or to be just as careful in traffic.  Or to stock up on emergency supplies, just in case.

(Being dead shouldn’t scare a believer, but I can think of few methods of getting that way that don’t scare the pants off me.)

Trusting in the Lord” is not a synonym for being stupid. 

“But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Thy works.” (Psalms 73:28)

Featured Commentary: Vanishing People ~ J.L. Robb

The Haters

The Haters
Vol: 153 Issue: 25 Wednesday, June 25, 2014

When I was a young man, the idea of Christian persecution seemed (to me)  more historical than actual — why would anybody want to persecute Christians?  That baffled me.

I knew about historical persecution in the days of the Roman Empire and I could kind of understand it, when I looked at it in historical context.  Christianity threatened to upset the balance of power within the Roman Empire.

It wasn’t because Christianity introduced a new god to the Roman pantheon. 

The Romans had tons of gods, most of whom they borrowed from the Greeks, who had plenty of gods to spare.  The Romans looked for common ground between their major gods and those of the Greeks, adapting Greek myths and iconography for Latin literature and Roman art.

So to the Romans, another god more or less didn’t make much difference either way.  As the Romans extended their dominance throughout the Mediterranean world, their policy in general was to absorb the deities and cults of other peoples rather than try to eradicate them.

By the height of the Empire, numerous international deities were cultivated at Rome and had been carried to even the most remote provinces, among them Cybele, Isis, Epona, and gods of solar monism such as Mithras and Sol Invictus, found as far north as Roman Britain.

Because Romans had never been obligated to cultivate one god or one cult only, religious tolerance was not an issue in the sense that it is for competing monotheistic systems.

Ancient Rome considered itself highly religious and credited their rise to power to their relationship with their gods and goddesses.  Roman religion was based primarily on knowledge, prayer, ritual and sacrifice, rather than on faith or doctrine.

But the Christian religion wasn’t like the rest of the religions of Rome.  The Christian religion had no defined rituals.  Prayer was modeled after the “Lord’s Prayer” which eschewed ritual formality in favor of a simple acknowledgement of dependence upon the One True God for all things.

And THAT is where all the problems arose.  The whole, “One True God” thing.  If there was only One True God, then that meant that all the rest of them were false gods.

Jesus claimed He was the only God, and that “No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”

It logically follows then, that the Roman polytheist was doomed, according to Christian theology.  The population in those days found that sort of doctrine threatening, even hateful.  In fact, that was the charge under which they were persecuted — they called it a hate crime.

How could this be?  The fact is, the claims of Christianity make it the enemy of every single other religious belief structure on earth.

Why?  Because, according to Jesus, any worship that denies Him is worship of the devil.

Assessment:

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)

The United States Constitution’s First enumerated freedom under the Bill of Rights is freedom of religion.  That was another reason why as a young man, the idea of Christian persecution seemed so foreign to me. 

Christianity is not so named because in colonial America, it wasn’t necessary.  The default position was Christian –instituting protections for Christianity would be as unnecessary as setting forth the criteria for marriage as being between a male and female.

(Some things are just so obvious that they don’t need explaining.  Or so they thought 236 years ago.)

It wasn’t Christians whose worship needed protecting.  The Founders were more concerned with ensuring that all religions would be tolerated. 

And in so doing, they ensured that all religions in America would be tolerated.  All of them, except the one they never anticipated would ever need safeguarding.

Consequently, as we count down the last days to the return of Christ, the most dangerous label one could affix to a Christian would be that of “Christian fundamentalist.” 

First, let’s define a fundamentalist as one who stands firm on the fundamental doctrines of his faith.

By the turn of the 20th century, American theological conservatives had identified five basic Christian fundamentals which most of you will recognize from the OL’s basic statement of faith:

  1. The Divine Authorship, inspiration and authority of Scripture.
  2. The Virgin Birth of Christ.
  3. The Atoning Work of the Cross.
  4. The historical reality of Jesus Christ and His earthly ministry.
  5. The historical reality of Jesus’ bodily resurrection and ascension.

If one holds to those five basic Christian truths, then one is a Christian fundamentalist and therefore, a “intolerant hater” that the Department of Homeland Security considers a threat to national security.  But only Christian fundamentalism is viewed by the federal government as a threat. 

To the world, Christian fundamentalists are the ones who advocate the rebuilding of Israel’s Temple in Jerusalem, oppose the creation of a terrorist state beside Israel, oppose the division of Jerusalem, and the destruction of our shared enemy.

They accept the testimony of the Bible as legal title for Israel’s possession of the Land of Promise and support Israel’s right to exist as an issue of doctrine as well as politics.  The world hates them for that.

The world views Christian fundamentalism as being responsible for all manner of hate crimes, not the least of which is its exclusivity.  The entire ecumenical movement is stalled in its tracks by Christian fundamentalism. 

On the other hand, if one adheres to the Five Pillars of Islam, one is a Muslim fundamentalist and, in America, automatically deserving of such respect that even non-Muslims revere Mohammed as “a Prophet” even if offering such recognition violates their own Five Fundamentals of Faith.

For example, in 2012 Tim Tebow sparked a HUGE backlash during last year’s Super Bowl when he starred in a pro-family ad sponsored by Focus on the Family.  The ad was about Tebow himself, and how his mother decided not to abort him when she was pregnant.

The ad set off howls of protests and demands for boycotts against the network amid demands that the ad be cancelled on the grounds there was no place for such controversial ads on public television.

Later that same year, Lowe’s decided to pull its ads from a reality show on TLC about Muslim-Americans due to complaints from Christian groups that the show was promoting Islam as a faith.  Once again, there was a reaction.  But not against the network for producing the program.

Against Lowe’s . . . for pulling its support.

Calling the retail giant’s decision “un-American” and “naked … bigotry,” Senator Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told the Associated Press he was even considering legislative action if Lowe’s didn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate the ads. 

In post-Christian, Laodicean America, when compared to the “threat” posed by Christian fundamentalism, even a form of fundamentalism that mandates the murder of innocents in the thousands, pales by comparison.

I began with the statement that when I was a young man, I could not imagine the circumstances under which Christians living in the world’s most Christian country could ever find themselves persecuted for their faith.

Of course, I could also never have imagined that a faith that offers salvation as a free gift extended to all mankind would be considered hateful whereas a religion that demanded murder-suicide as a condition of salvation would be celebrated.  Especially by those whose murder would satisfy those conditions.

But that is where we find ourselves — not over the course of centuries, but over the course of less than two decades.  When Bill Clinton and Al Gore addressed the DNC in 1992, they both quoted what they claimed was the Bible. 

The DNC rocked the US political establishment when it voted to remove any mention of God or Jerusalem from their platform.  When the DNC sought to quell the backlash by holding a voice vote to put God back in, He lost three times before the Democrats did what they do best.

They stole the election for Him.  Nobody quoted the Bible.

America was born out of the principles of Christianity that made her the greatest nation the world had ever seen.   America kept to the basic fundamental doctrines of Christianity for most of her existence and prospered like no nation in the history of the world.

Until, like the Romans before them, they came to worship the  creation more than the Creator, precisely as the Bible predicted would happen in the last days. 

”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.” (2nd Timothy 4:3-4)

Like the fable that says that Christian fundamentalism is dangerous and hateful, but Islamic fundamentalism is to be respected as a “religion of peace and love” in spite of the mountains of bodies that testify to the contrary. 

Ever notice that hardly anybody ever asks where America is in prophecy anymore?

”Judas Hanged Himself — Thou Do Likewise”

”Judas Hanged Himself — Thou Do Likewise”
Vol: 153 Issue: 24 Tuesday, June 24, 2014

”God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: Hat He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19)

“If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” (Jeremiah 18:8)

So, which is it?

God says of Himself that He isn’t a man, that He should “repent” which means to ‘change His mind.’  But then He says he will repent of a decision in response to the actions of man.  Is God indecisive? 

It seems rather a difficult character defect to ascribe to an all-powerful and all-knowing God without having to demote Him to really powerful and really knowledgeable.  (Instead, they are actually attributes of the Enemy)

The word translated ‘repent’ is much richer in its understanding in Hebrew or Greek than it is by the time it makes it to English.  It implies a complete change of mind from one thing to another in which the two positions are mutually exclusive, rather than simply meaning any old change of thinking.

When a person repents of his sin and surrenders to Christ, what takes place is that person’s core worldview undergoes a fundamental reversal.   A repentent believer understands that he deserves to go to hell. 

A repentent believer knows that his salvation cannot be attained or secured based on one’s own good works or righteous behavior, but is the product of the grace of God obtained by faith and secured by the righteousness of Christ.

By nature and definition, God is all-knowing.  For God to repent suggests that God either made a mistake, which is impossible, or didn’t foresee events that subsequently caused Him to change His mind.  

The Bible lists thirty-one different times in which it says God does repent.  It would take too long to list them all, but a few examples in which it appears God did change His mind include:

“And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:7)

“And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” (Exodus 32:14)

“If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.”(Jeremiah 26:3)

God says He doesn’t repent.  He also says He doesn’t lie.  

It is a conundrum.

Assessment:

“For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6)

Is the Bible true?  How can it be with this seemingly impossible contradiction?  God says He doesn’t lie and doesn’t repent and then He goes ahead and repents thirty-one times.  How can both be simultaneously true?  

God’s holiness is unchanging.  Consequently, it requires Him to treat the wicked differently from the righteous.  When the righteous become wicked, His treatment of them must change.  

For example, America was once among the most righteous of the nations, and simultaneously, the most blessed among the nations.

Most of our blessings have soured as America moved further and further from acknowledging God as the Creator and Guarantor of our rights and freedoms.  God didn’t change.  We did.

By way of analogy, the sun doesn’t ‘change its mind’ when it hardens clary while softening wax.  The sun is the same and so is the effect — the sun will always harden clay and it will always soften wax.  

It is the wax and the clay that differ, not the effect of the sun.  God is unchanging in His eternal plan — the changes are from the perspective of the changed:

“Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him:” (Ephesians 1:9-10)

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)

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

God is immutable, but that is not the same as being immobile.  The plan remains unchanged.  God’s ‘repentance’ involves the execution — while working within the confines of space and time — of purposes eternally existing in the mind of God.  

The execution of that plan necessarily involves human beings, which necessarily involve free will, which requires God to make adjustments.  Are these adjustments unforeseen?  Was God taken by surprise?  

That totally misses the point.  God is perfect.  We are not.  He must allow for our imperfections. 

Read in context, Numbers 23:19 is part of a wider discourse concerning Israel, not God.  Speaking through Balaam, what God is saying when He says, “God is not a man, that He should lie or repent”  He is speaking in relation to His plan for Israel. 

In context, it isn’t saying that God will never repent of anything — here the Scripture is promising that He will not repent concerning His promise to Israel.  There actually is no contradiction — the contradiction is created by making the mistake of using one passage of Scripture to interpret another.  

That will almost always produce error because every passage of Scripture must be understood in context. 

Once you pull Scripture out of context, one can accurately argue that the Bible says that Judas went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5) and “thou do likewise” (Judges 7:17) therefore supports the conclusion that the Bible encourages suicide by hanging.  

Rather than presenting an insurmountable Bible contradiction, the fact that God repents Himself teaches a series of wonderful truths.  It teaches that God is not impersonal.  He responds to man’s actions.  He is not an unfeeling Spirit.  He knows what ails us.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

The entire debate teaches us the importance of rightly dividing the Word of truth.  Many approach the Scripture seeking confirmation of what they already believe to be true, rather than seeking the truth itself.  

As we’ve already seen, if one is seeking confirmation that the Bible is flawed, or that Scriptures contradict themselves, then that is exactly what they will find.  One can find proof texts for all four positions on the doctrine on the Rapture.

One can find proof texts that seem to confirm that one can lose one’s salvation, that the Bible teaches soul sleep, that there is no hell, that God is indecisive, that the Rapture is pre, mid, pre-Wrath, post trib and that there is no Rapture at all.

If one approaches the Scripture looking for contradictions, one can find them.  Even when they aren’t there.

“Is the Bible Divinely inspired?  Well, the Bible says God doesn’t change His mind, then it says He does.  Here, let me show you — it says so right here and here. ”    

When somebody does that, it can be pretty convincing.  But on deeper investigation, it always turns out to be a case of the melting wax complaining that the sun is indecisive because the clay hardened. 

It isn’t God that changes — His holiness is unchanging.  

“If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. . .   If it do evil in My sight, that it obey not My voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.” (Jeremiah 18:8,10)

If America is no longer under God’s Hand of blessing, it isn’t because God changed His mind about America.  It is because America changed its mind about God.

God is simply responding in kind.

Featured Commentary: Desolation, with a Deadline ~ Wendy Wippel

Repealing Godwin’s Law

Repealing Godwin’s Law
Vol: 153 Issue: 23 Monday, June 23, 2014

One of the historical ‘what-ifs’ about Adolf Hitler is the one that asks, ‘what if Hitler hadn’t started the Second World War?’  Suppose he died in office before that?

Most historians are in agreement that in that case, Hitler would probably have gone down in history as one of Europe’s greatest statesman.

Britain’s Lloyd George led the British to victory over Kaiser Wilhelm II’s forces during the First World War.   The man that led the nation’s fight against Germany just nineteen years earlier had this to say about Hitler in 1936:

“I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected. Whatever one may think of his methods – and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country, there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvelous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook.”

Lloyd George wasn’t the only British leader to put his grudging admiration for the former German Army corporal in writing.  In 1935, Winston Churchill wrote:

“In fifteen years that have followed this resolve, he has succeeded in restoring Germany to the most powerful position in Europe, and not only has he restored the position of his country, but he has even, to a very great extent, reversed the results of the Great War…. the vanquished are in the process of becoming the victors and the victors the vanquished…. whatever else might be thought about these exploits they are certainly among the most remarkable in the whole history of the world.” –  Winston Churchill, 1935.

Hitler’s evil knew no bounds, but it was systematic, organized and carefully regulated evil.  It was SO carefully organized and regulated that in many cases, many of those participating in what we now know to be atrocities were unaware of the Big Picture in which they were participating at the time. 

None of this is intended to excuse WWII Germany for its crimes.  Instead, we are looking at the situation in context . . . very few people knew in 1936 what Hitler had in mind for the near future.  Those that did know were marginalized or ignored, in much the same way Obama’s critics are. 

But for the great majority of the world’s people living in 1936, Adolf Hitler was one of the world’s greatest living statesmen. 

The popular, modern view of Hitler was that he was completely mad.  That has a tendency to absolve him of his crimes to some degree.  But Hitler wasn’t mad in the natural sense.  He was evil, which is a form of spiritual madness, but one that offers no shelter from responsibility or blame.

His most amazing achievement was his uniting the great mass of the German (and Austrian) people behind him.  Throughout his career his popularity was larger and deeper than the popularity of the National Socialist Party.

A great majority of Germans believed in him until the very end.  In this respect he stands out among almost all of the dictators of the 19th and 20th centuries, which is especially impressive when we consider that the Germans were among the best-educated peoples in the 20th century.

There is no question that the overwhelming majority of the German people supported Hitler, though often only passively.  Their trust in him was greater than their trust in the Nazi hierarchy.

This despite the fact that by the mid-1930’s he had systematically dismantled all of Germany’s democratic institutions and had consolidated all power unto himself.

The Nazis were strongly socialist and anti-capitalist, believing that international finance and big business were damaging to the nation, believing that capitalism takes a nation hostage to the benefit of the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary that if he had to pick between Bolshevism and capitalism, “it would be better for us to go down with Bolshevism than live in eternal slavery under capitalism.”

As already noted, the Nazi Party exerted control through the issuance of wave upon wave of regulations aimed at capitalist bankers, big industry and the Jews that Hitler claimed were in control of it all.  Most of his regulations were aimed at bringing major parts of the German economy under his direct control.

According to the American Action Forum, the cost of added regulations under Obama are already estimated to be in excess of $488 billion — nearly a half trillion dollars.

“Based on data from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and regulations published in the Federal Register, the Administration has published more than $488 billion in regulatory costs since January 20, 2009 – $70 billion in 2012 alone,” reads the analysis from AAF. . .

These paperwork burdens are real, often ignored, and continue to grow,” reads the analysis. “According to White House data, there were 8.8 billion hours of federal paperwork in FY 2010.  The implementation of Dodd-Frank and the Affordable Care Act has driven this figure to 10.38 billion, an increase of 1.5 billion hours.  To put this increase in perspective, assuming a 2,000-hour work year it, would take 771,999 full-time equivalent employees simply to fill out red tape.  Or, during the same amount of time, workers could construct 220 Empire State Buildings.”

The Hill reported that the Obama administration has issued about 3,500 to 3,800 rules per year since 2009.

At that rate, by the time Obama’s second term is up, he will have buried American capitalism under the weight of about 120,000 new regulations.  

Assessment:

There is nothing that sets the Left off like comparing the direction Obama is taking America with the direction Hitler took Nazi Germany.  “No comparison!” they shriek.  “Hitler was a singular evil, never to be repeated!”

Indeed, there is an Internet social convention known as “Godwin’s Law.”  In many newsgroups and forums, violating Godwin’s Law means a particular thread is finished and whoever first made the comparison is deemed to have automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

So shut up?  Really?  What, exactly, would prevent a repeat of Hitler’s madness if not maintaining a constant vigil to ensure another Hitler doesn’t appear on the scene?   

Nazi Germany was a totalitarian Big Brother police state that carefully watched its citizens.

Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News commentator, raised the question on Neil Cavuto’s “Your World” show Wednesday. And while it seems fanciful in light of the safeguards built into our democracy and its institutions, it recognizes the threat posed by the president’s policies and actions if left unchecked.

“I think the president is dangerously close to totalitarianism,” Napolitano opined. “A few months ago he was saying, ‘The Congress doesn’t count, the Congress doesn’t mean anything, I am going to rule by decree and by administrative regulation.’

“Now he’s basically saying the Supreme Court doesn’t count. It doesn’t matter what they think. They can’t review our legislation. That would leave just him as the only branch of government standing.”

The Nazis were famous for dehumanizing their subjects.  The way that the TSA dehumanizes air travellers.  Or the way that schools dehumanize students, forcing them into a one-size-fits-all worldview.

The Nazis could detain anyone at will unless “their papers were in order.”  In America recently,  a 21-year-old college student named Samantha Zucker was arrested and put in a New York City jail for 36 hours just because she could not produce any identification for police.

(In America, the only persons not required to carry their identification with them at all times are illegal aliens, the President, and Democrat voters on Election Day.)

Hitler was a Big Government sort of guy — he realized the value of being in control of government handouts.  As one eyewitness described it:

“In Nazi Germany, newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families. All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.”

The subtitles from Kitty Werthmann’s eyewitness account have a familiar ring to them. . .  they don’t sound German at all.  Indeed, they sound distinctly American.  I encourage you to read the whole article.

  • Equal Rights Hits Home
  • Hitler Restructured the Family Through Daycare
  • Health Care and Small Business Suffer under Government Controls
  • Mercy Killing (Euthanasia) Redefined
  • Final Steps – Gun Laws

“Next came gun registration. People were getting injured by guns. Hitler said that the real way to catch criminals (we still had a few) was by matching serial numbers on guns. Most citizens were law abiding and dutifully marched to the police station to register their firearms. Not long after-wards, the police said that it was best for everyone to turn in their guns. The authorities already knew who had them, so it was futile not to comply voluntarily. No more freedom of speech. Anyone who said something against the government was taken away. We knew many people who were arrested, not only Jews, but also priests and ministers who spoke up. Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”

The whole idea sounded almost unbelievable in America, too.  Until about six years ago when, little by little, our freedoms began to erode.   

By 1936 Hitler had earned the praises of guys like Winston Churchill, Lloyd George, Joseph P Kennedy and Charles Lindbergh, among others.  Three short years later, Nazi forces were marching into Poland.   

Obama is half way through ANOTHER four year term.  

Hitler came to power in 1933.  Eight years later, it was 1941.  Godwin’s Law notwithstanding, a lot can happen in eight years.

Featured Commentary: The Star ~ Pete Garcia