Friday, December 31, 2010

The futility of New Year's resolutions, the surety of Christ

I vacationed frequently at the beach in Venice, Florida. The Gulf coast is so peaceful the water so blue, I found it incredibly relaxing. One day, I watched a couple of kids make a huge sand castle. They spent most of the day on it. It was not architecturally sophisticated. They simply dragged up pail after pail of sand, made it about as tall as themselves, and spent a while looking for the perfect stones and shells to adorn it.  A stick on top and a scrap of seaweed made the flag. And what castle is complete without a moat? The kids wanted to be sure no enemy could raid their fortress, so they made three moats.

"Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand." (Mt 7:26).

non-believers' foundation is sand
Then the tide came in. Their day's work was washed away. The kids tried unsuccessfully to restore, prop up, and protect their creation but it didn't work. The inevitable happened. "...the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash." (Mt 7:276).

Another place I used to vacation is Jasper Beach Maine. It is a wild beach in far eastern Maine, and one of only two beaches in the world to have stones for its base and not sand. The stones have been rounded by wave action and high tides rolling them around, and they make a nice clacking sound akin to pool balls when you walk over them. The beach is never eroded because the rocks seem so stable. But walking on them is hard, they roll, they move, and in the end, putting a chaise lounge atop them to lay on is almost impossible because the rocks move so much. Even that seemingly solid foundation crumbles in the end.

lukewarm believers' foundation is on shifting stones
If you haven't realized the allusions yet, it is to say that founding your life on anything other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ means you will topple. You may not topple until you die, or you may topple during the storms of your life, but you will topple. Apart from Him you can do nothing. (John 15:5).
believers' foundation is the Rock, and He is the light!
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock." (Mt 7:24-25). Make 2011 the year you found your life upon the Rock! Be in His light! "While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light."(John 12:316a).

Many people take the New Year to make resolutions, that is, make self-improvement promises to one's self. 'I will lose weight,' 'I will stop smoking', 'I will spend more time with family', 'I will work harder...' are typical promises. Research shows that most New Year's resolutions fail in a week. Self-improvement is impossible without Jesus but "in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Cor 5:17). Let HIM re-create you! You will not fail. You will "conform no longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Rom 12:2). He will "strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way." (Isaiah 35:3). "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." (Phil 1:6). Your resolution will not fail within a week if you allow Jesus to recreate you!

If you make ONE resolution this year, it is that you will follow Jesus as your Savior. Resolve to put aside the sinful man and allow Him to re-create you in His image. And yes, I am talking to people who think that are already followers as well as non-believers. Take stock, be sure of your salvation, resolve to allow Him to strengthen you. And your New Year will become a New Eternity.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Anarchy, I tell ya!

The snowstorm of Christmas 2010 will go down in the books as a monster. Pouring out snow at the rate of 2-3 inches per hour at its height, covering a third of the nation with snow inside of 2 days, and stranding thousands and tens of thousands of people at mass transit points, is definitely a monster by any definition. News reports used words to describe the mood as irate, outraged or vexed. But it didn't take long for headlines to start using words like chaos, fury, and anarchy. It took a day, actually.

US snow travel chaos
Fury as city is paralyzed by blizzard
Lord of the Fliers: Will Anarchy Break Out Among Throngs of Stranded Air Travelers?

The fun wasn't limited to the US, either. Moscow had its own travel chaos this week, too. Fights broke out. In Moscow, air travel clerks were beat up. Aeroflot personnel were now scared of dealing with agitated passengers, saying the airport did not have enough security guards.

Soon there was no food. 400 people were stranded on a train overnight with no water and nothing to eat. At JFK, the thousands of people languishing inside the airport soon ate up all the food at the restaurants, and no replenishment trucks arrived to bring more. There was a fracas at McDonald's when they ran out of food. Video here.

Daniel 12:4 records that the angel told him in the days of the end, many will go to and fro. So many people today boast that we can go here and there in a heartbeat, such is our advancement in technology. We think nothing of taking jobs that are located so far away from where we live, relying on trains, buses, and highways to get there. But what all that means is that we rely heavily on infrastructure. On any given day, a high percentage of the world's population is commuting or voluntarily traveling far away from their home. The lines supporting all this going to and fro are thin. In the case at JFK, the airport is not far from one of the largest cities of the world but still, the snow prevented thousands from reaching food and hotels.

It only took a day for the support lines to break down. One day. And by a day after that, people were reverting to hunter-killer mode of the jungle days. People who cut in line at the airport were beaten back. People angling for food in front of Sbarro's were fought off. Moscow airline Clerks were too afraid even to appear behind the desk. Even people safe at home in NYC were furious that the snow hadn't been cleared yet and resorted to obscenities and anger. Even worse, there were casualties because of the storm: ambulances could not reach a woman's newborn, who died in a hotel lobby. A grandmother in NYC also died due to delays in paramedics getting there. Trash hasn't been picked up in days and it's piling up.

It is not just New York and Moscow struggling to handle masses of people who are angry and stranded, Northern Ireland's cold is popping water pipes all over the place. Many families have been without water for 8 days, and now there are public health fears. 40,000 homes and businesses in Belfast and 80 surrounding towns are dealing with raw sewage and/or lack of water as septic systems overflow and water pipes don't. Scotland Yard is attempting to bring enough bottled water and showering facilities to the stricken people.

The truth is that we are so dependent on invisible supply lines, (water pipes, plow trucks, ambulances, grocery re-supply trucks) we begin to think they will always be there to provide for us in emergencies. This is not an essay about the fact that infrastructure crumbles almost immediately when pressured. It is about man's  reaction to what happens when the supplies and transport we have counted on break down. Going to and fro suddenly seems like not such a good idea.

The 2010 break-down occurred after only two days, which resulted in anger, fighting, fury, and anarchy. Craven humanity resorts to anger and fighting in such a short time...with the Restrainer STILL ON EARTH. (2 Thess 2:7). The Lord will take Him out of the way at the rapture. Imagine what will happen when the world is subjected to peace being withdrawn from the earth, men slaying each other, no food, wild beasts attack and devour people all over the globe, the stars fall from the sky, and every mountain and island are moved from their places in a giant earthquake?

I just gave the highlights of the first set of judgments on the earth in Revelation 6. If people fight over a Happy Meal, if they punch the airline clerk because they haven't been home in a day, if they get furious over lack of plowing, with the Restrainer on earth, imagine the reaction in the Tribulation!

It is not a time that you want even your worst enemy on earth. Does this motivate you to be more patient with your annoying co-worker? Does this fact implore you to show the peace of Jesus in all you say and do? Does this knowledge help you strengthen your resolve to have that difficult conversation with the unsaved family member? I hope so! Time is running out.

Wedding at Cana first miracle and Wedding supper of the Lamb as last miracle

Jesus' first miracle was the Wedding at Cana. Here it is:

"On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 1and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him." (John 2:1-11)

It was the first public miracle, yet only a few people knew what had happened. Mary, the disciples, and the servants saw. Mary already knew He is the Messiah. The disciples already suspected He is the Messiah. The servants only knew that something miraculous had happened. So what was the point of the miracle?

I have heard one interpretation that since fermenting wine is a timed process and that there is nothing man can do to hurry it along, Jesus instantly changing the water into wine demonstrates His mastery of time and space. Other interpretations teach that it reveals His glory, that He is the best wine kept back until now, that He pours forth His blood freely, that Mary was showing her humility by leaving the initiative up to Him ("Do whatever he tells you") or that ritual purification jars will no longer be needed because Jesus will wash us clean once for all, etc. They are all plausible and they are all lovely, especially the interpretation where Jesus demonstrates His mastery over time by fermenting wine instantly. But while plausible, none of these interpretations settled my puzzlement over its the inclusion in John.

Why this miracle, especially since John tells us in verse 21:25 that "there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written." Why did the Holy Spirit impress this event onto the writer's mind for inclusion in the bible, when there were so many other miracles and signs to choose from? Because, remember, John said it was a sign. A sign is given to authenticate. So what was being authenticated here?

I was thinking about that today and one possible interpretation came to me. In the bible, wine is used as a symbol of holy joy. Isaiah uses it frequently, alternately showing that wine's absence is a symbol of desolation (Isaiah 24:11). If wine is a symbol of holy joy, and its absence is a symbol of desolation, then Mary's words to Jesus at the beginning of the miracle: "They have no more wine" (John 2:3) takes on new meaning.

Taking focus off the wine itself for a moment, look at the event: a wedding. In Isaiah 25:6-7 we read,

"The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
         A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
         And refined, aged wine.
And on this mountain He will swallow up the covering which is over all peoples,
         Even the veil which is stretched over all nations."

The preparations made in the gospel for the reception of repentant sinners with God are often in the New Testament shown by the illustration of a feast, as seen above and in Mt. 22:1, "The parable of the Marriage Feast." All peoples are invited to partake of His salvation upon His 'mountain', or, His church, to feast upon the glory to soon come in the form of the holy sacrifice of Jesus and the swallowing of the veil that separates us from God. And we will drink wine, not just any wine, but Isaiah carefully notes, aged wine. As John notes, 'the best wine.' As the bible closes out the last of known human history-yet-to-come, we are promised another wedding-

Marriage of the Lamb
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, "Write, 'Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb '" (Rev 19:7-9).

The tribulation is a time when Jesus pours out the winepress of His wrath (Rev 14:9) because they have drunk wine of the passion of their immorality (Rev. 14:8). But for His children He promises the best wine. We have holy joy in this.

We're promised a wedding in Isaiah, Jesus opens His ministry at a wedding in John, and we close out the bible with a wedding in Revelation. Wine is at all times understood to be a central component of the blessed event practically, spiritually, culturally, and symbolically. Compare the miracle at the wedding in Cana with the end times event of the Marriage supper of the Lamb and perhaps we can understand a glimpse of His purpose in this sign that John shares with us. Throughout the bible, the symbolism of weddings have prominence. He and the Apostles continually call the church His bride. Human history closes with a wedding banquet. It is fitting He opened His ministry and performed His first sign at a wedding. It is fitting that He showed His deity through changing water into wine. He IS the wine, and we are His bride. Thank you Jesus! You are saving the best for last!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Apollo 11's communion on the moon, and Madelyn Murray O'Hair

Apollo 8 (1968) was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to planet Earth from another celestial body—Earth's Moon. The three-man American crew of mission Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot James Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders became the first humans to directly see the far side of the Moon, as well as the first humans to see planet Earth from beyond low Earth orbit. (Wikipedia). It must have made quite an impression on the three astronauts to see our globe hung in space as a tiny dot, and to ponder the mysteries of the heavens. On Christmas Eve, Frank Borman sent a message to the people on earth. Please take a moment to watch this moving, 2-minute clip:

A few years prior to the momentous and quite spiritual event taking place above the moon at earth-rise, Madelyn Murray O'Hair lodged a lawsuit at the Supreme Court in 1960 that was decided  in 1962. O'Hair was a well-known atheist, communist, free-thinker and sexual libertine. O'Hair's suit contended that prayer must be removed from public schools. Actually, there were one or two suits being decided prior to O'Hair's but her suit was in fact folded into a seminal judgment banning bible readings from public schools, closely on the heels of the ban on prayer in schools rendered a few months prior.  She took credit for the "victory", anyway. So thanks to her, on June 25, 1962, "39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of our nation – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day." When Borman read the passage from Genesis in 1968, O'Hair again lodged a lawsuit, this time against NASA. O'Hair wanted the courts to ban US astronauts, who were all Government employees, from public prayer in outer space.

A few months later, on July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon and he held a ceremony: the ceremony of communion. Please take a moment to watch the following 2-minute clip, from Tom Hanks' Emmy award winning HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon" that accurately depicts the moment:

O'Hair's Genesis-reading case was eventually rejected by the US Supreme Court for lack of jurisdiction. However, what comes to mind here was the tragedy of those few intervening months. Between the reading of Genesis on Christmas eve 1968 and 7 months later when Aldrin took communion on the moon, Christianity went from boldly declaring God as the Creator of all the Universe, to a timid and secretive religious homage to that same Creator, with an added lukewarm thank you to whomever. After he clicked off the radio, Aldrin read: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5). How fitting! But how sad it was only heard by Armstrong and Aldrin. Aldrin's choice of verse acknowledged the Creator of the planet upon which they were sitting as the One who is the Source of all endeavors. Yet O'Hair's impact was such that this declaration of truth was muzzled and silenced.

O'Hair's legacy was such that for a while she was called the most hated woman in America. Apparently, not only in America. She and her two children traveled via ship to Europe with the intention of defecting to the Soviet embassy in Paris and residing in the Soviet Union. The Soviets denied them entry. She founded American Atheists, promoted sexual liberation for children, and campaigned against God all her life. She even called her own son a "postnatal abortion."

Sadly, she was abducted and killed, dismembered and her head chopped off. Her remains were not discovered for many years. Her son said that O'Hair was an evil person. "My mother was an evil person... Not for removing prayer from America's schools... No, she was just evil. She stole huge amounts of money. She misused the trust of people. She cheated children out of their parents' inheritance. She cheated on her taxes and even stole from her own organizations. She once printed up phony stock certificates on her own printing press to try to take over another atheist publishing company....Regardless of how evil and lawless my mother was she did not deserve to die in the manner she did."

Her son is a Christian, baptised, and a Baptist preacher. I can't imagine his pain, and his certain knowledge that his mother has much to answer for and will reside forever in torment in hell, apart from Jesus.

But if this one woman wreaked such havoc on America so as to remove prayer from before 40 million school children, from stopping the globe's premier space agency from broadcasting one bible verse, and getting her message out on television, cable, and radio to millions over the course of decades, what can one Christian do? Much! If we each remain strong in faith, always acknowledging Him for all that we are and all that we accomplish as Borman and Aldrin did, then nothing is impossible. If such evil can accomplish so much, what can Good do? Pray and ask Him how you might be used today. And be ready for His answer!

Signs in the heavens: Saturn's huge storm

If you got a telescope for Christmas, you are in luck. The two largest planets in our solar system are now putting on an exciting show for observers. Jupiter's Equatorial Belt, which disappeared last year, is back. And Saturn is having a massive storm of its own, as the Cassini fly-by revealed. Veteran planet-watcher Thomas Dobbins notes the last time such a large storm appeared on Saturn was 1994.

From Wired Science: "The storm has a huge central funnel and a long tail that sweeps around Saturn’s northern hemisphere for tens of thousands of miles. A shot in blue light (left) reveals the extent of the tail, but infrared light (right) shows detail of the storm’s amorphous core." 

The storm is 12 times bigger than the east coast blizzard. It appears regularly, except when it doesn't appear regularly, lol. "The Great White Spot is the lesser known, Saturnian equivalent of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. It's the name given to periodic storms that flare up about every 28.5 years, previously showing up in 1876, 1903, 1933, 1960, and 1990. As such, we shouldn't be expecting another appearance until around 2018, although huge, Spot-like storms do occasionally show up at times that don't fit the cycle, including 1994 and 2006."

As for Jupiter, the brown stripe across its southern hemisphere that disappeared suddenly in May 2010 ("NASA: Big mystery- Jupiter loses its stripe") just as mysteriously, has reappeared. "After fading out earlier this year, a large brown stripe on Jupiter is returning, according to astronomers. The stripe, known officially as the Southern Equatorial Belt had blended with the white clouds surrounding it. Now an amateur astronomer has said the belt is undergoing an outbreak and will soon return to its previous appearance. Experts say that the disappearance of the belt was the result of layers of clouds over Jupiter changing altitudes and that the brown strip had been covered up earlier in the year by the white-coloured ammonia clouds surrounding it. The brown stripe has occasionally vanished several times since it has been under observation, but scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly why it continues persist."

In other recent science news, an extinct comet is coming back to life, the red in Jupiter's Great Red Spot not what astronomers thought, scientists discovered they were wrong about neanderthals, the solar minimum lasted so long scientists had a hard time explaining, and oh yes, delaying sex makes for better relationships. Man - 0. God - ∞.

There were many other interesting science news articles this year that do illustrate man's capabilities in finding, learning, and explaining the world and outer space. But there were just as many that illustrated that what man had previously thought was being shaken to its core, and that in reality, there is much to learn. Our body of knowledge, though increasing, is flawed. God is not. His Word is perfect and contains much knowledge for how to live, economics, science, matters of government, and inter-relationships. Jesus said that in advance of His coming, "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea." (Luke 21:25). He gives us our brains, and curiosity and the tools to discover Him in space, but when we lift up our brains and the tools above Him and worship them instead, He shows us just how infinite He is, and how in control.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mark of the Beast rising: Currency to have wirelesss tracking transistors

"It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name." (Rev 13:16-17). Those verses speak of the False Prophet. He institutes a system that tracks all people. It's put on or in everyone's hand or forehead. It is not necessarily currency itself, but it IS a mark of worship to and allegiance with the Antichrist. Its purpose is to identify those who worship the antichrist. The "benefit" to having the mark is that you will not be killed, and that you can participate in the global economy. Verse 18 is the famous 666 reference. Of course, anyone who takes the mark won't be killed by the antichrist but their souls are forever damned and they will spend an eternity in hell. (Rev 14:9-10)

Ever since those scriptures were written man must have wondered about the mechanics of how one person could cause all the world's population to have a mark on them. Can't you just quietly refuse? Who would know? How are they going to track you down? Can't you just go somewhere else? Until Social Security numbers came along the 1930s, anyone could simply change identities by moving and making up a new name.

Even more puzzling to previous generations, must have been concerning the technology. How would a mark on one's hand allow the government to track all your purchases? How can it be? Our Sunday School teacher is 90 years old. When he was growing up, this county didn't even have electricity until he was 21.

But Daniel 12:4's prophecy "But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase" comes in to play here. This generation has seen such an explosion of knowledge and technology it staggers the mind. Within one lifetime, an elderly gentleman can recall the day they strung electricity on wires in front of his house, remember men walking on the moon, communicate with grandchildren on the other side of the world in an instant to...the following:

New Scientist magazine has an article from a few days ago describing a new technology: "Banknotes go electric to outwit counterfeiters"
"Modern banknotes contain up to 50 anti-counterfeiting features, but adding electronic circuits programmed to confirm the note's authenticity is perhaps the ultimate deterrent, and would also help to simplify banknote tracking. ...A team of German and Japanese researchers created arrays of thin-film transistors (TFTs) by carefully depositing gold, aluminium oxide and organic molecules directly onto the notes through a patterned mask, building up the TFTs layer by layer. All this is done "without aggressive chemicals or high temperatures, both of which might have damaged the surface of the banknotes", says team member Ute Zschieschang from the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, Germany. The result is an undamaged banknote containing around 100 organic TFTs, each of which is less than 250 nanometres thick and can be operated with voltages of just 3V. Such small voltages could be transmitted wirelessly by an external reader, such as the kind that communicates with the RFID tags found on many products.. The team's technique has been tested on US dollars, Swiss francs, Japanese yen and Euro notes. Although the researchers have yet to work out how the organic electronics could be harnessed as an anti-counterfeit measure, the circuits are able to perform simple computing operations."

RFID is radio frequency identification. So currency will soon have micro-layers of tiny circuits that can track. I do not know what the mark of the beast will be like, whether it will be a tracking device or whether it will be the currency itself. But the technology for advances in currency development combining with tracking are here. Not in the future. HERE. Just in case you are not spooked to your prophetic core yet, here is another article today:

Ceiling lights in Minn. send coded Internet data
"Flickering ceiling lights are usually a nuisance, but in city offices in St. Cloud, they will actually be a pathway to the Internet. The lights will transmit data to specially equipped computers on desks below by flickering faster than the eye can see. Ultimately, the technique could ease wireless congestion by opening up new expressways for short-range communications."

Inside one generation we went from porcelain covered insulators,
to this:

There is no doubt that we are the generation spoken of in Daniel in which people go to and fro and knowledge has increased. There is no doubt that the scaffolding is being erected that will allow the infrastructure of the building of the one world economy. If we see scaffolding being erected, then the rapture must be even closer.

A grateful heart will remain unshaken

Where I stand as this year draws to its close: I stand on the Cornerstone of all creation, because the mercy of Jesus has saved me. Gratitude fills my heart and my life with the blessings He has delivered to me, first fruit of which is that precious salvation. He Who is the fount from which all beneficence flows, in His mercy accepted my piteous cries for forgiveness and smiled upon my soul, bringing light and peace.

He continued to bless me by installing the Holy Spirit within me to rely upon as my guide and teacher. He allows me to grow in His light and remain upon His paths by sending me wisdom as I read His Holy Word. He gives me earthly fulfillments- I am not hungry, I am in a warm home, I am clothed and I am employed. I learn from Paul who said to the Philippians, "Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Phil 4:11-13)

Contentment no matter the circumstance is truly a gift. Do you have a grateful heart as this year closes? The end time is a period when the Lord is shaking heaven and earth, and we see what remains. "At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:26-19). In the meanwhile, here on earth, He is shaking loose governments, mountains, economies, what remains? Believers! The Kingdom is within us and we must not be shaken as the the end time warnings continue to deepen. Gratitude and contentment in the midst of terrible circumstances is key to remaining unshaken. Paul was unshaken, content in all that occurred. So was Abraham Lincoln. The basis of Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation was gratitude to the LORD. Notice how his decree began, not with a listing of current troubles, and if any man had a right to complain it was Lincoln. But the proclamation began with gratitude toward the Lord for blessings. Lincoln begins:

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom."

"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy."

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union."

"In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three..."

Friend, you are of the Kingdom - the Kingdom that will not be shaken! My prayer for you is that your heart is filled with gratitude for all things, no matter the circumstance. "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts." (Col 3:16)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twitter wit

"BREAKING NEWS: Satan taking 2011 off, says we're doing just fine on our own."

2010 trends: By the numbers

Fooling around with Excel today put me in a graphing mood, so I looked for other data to present in visual form. For your perusal.

Bank failures in United States over the last 4 years

Bankruptcies per capita 2007

Bankruptcies 2010
Google trends page shows a massive spike in searches involving the word "sinkhole"
Nations that recognize Palestinian State. Dark green is statehood recognition, light green proffers special diplomatic status.

Baptisms in the Southern Baptist Convention have also declined

Sinkhole in FL opens to 100 feet wide within minutes

From Highland Today, Interim Emergency Operations Management Director said 'this was the biggest one he'd seen'. I've written about the phenomenon of sinkholes several times before. Here is an essay from Nov. of this year with scriptures plus some context reporting on additional sinkholes titled "Experts worried about increase in sinkholes". In that piece, it was reported that 'Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state's second largest multi-peril home insurer, told a state Senate committee during a hearing on the sinkhole issue that the number of claims being made to the company has more than doubled since 2005." Premiums are up 30%. Last June I wrote an essay called "Is the Earth Cracking Up?" which explains further my thinking on the biblical implications of sinkholes' increasing appearance. By the way, another sinkhole opened in Ocna Mures Romania on December 23, where the town is in a state of emergency.  Below is a story excerpt with photos from this latest sinkhole in Florida:

"About 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Luis Hernandez felt the soil trembling beneath his feet. "He had to run that way," said his wife, Orpha, pointing to the east behind their three-bedroom mobile home. He heard air coming up, "Whooo, whooo, whooo," Orpha approximated the noise, as if underground air was rushing to the surface. Luis knows because he looked at the clock on his phone – in just five minutes, a 100-foot wide sinkhole opened in the sand, gulping pots with palm trees and ligustrum hedges and catley guava. By Friday, they'd rescued all the nursery plants from the one-acre plot, moving them to the adjoining nine acres. But the hole had swelled 20 feet wider, and at 4 p.m. Friday, the circular mouth was an estimated 140 feet across. "This morning, there was just a little water in it," she said. But by late afternoon, water was three feet deep and rising in the center of the hole."
Within five minutes, the hole was 100 feet wide, said Hernandez. The owners had to run to escape:
By Friday afternoon, several feet of water had accumulated in the bottom of the sinkhole. The couple owns Florahome Nursery, and they had plants on the area of the property when it caved in:

A wall of sand and soil shows the division of one of several tiers of ground where a sinkhole opened up, which had increased to 140 feet wide by Friday afternoon:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Apollo 8 Christmas Eve message to the world

1968: The crew of Apollo 8 delivers a live, televised Christmas Eve broadcast after becoming the first humans to orbit another space body.

That is so beautiful!

Forty years later:

Lord, come soon! He is so worthy, the undivided Trinity remains forever, may His name be exalted.

The Spirit pursues you

Today is the day that our Savior was born and lived a life incarnate. How do I even think of the Immeasurable and Infinite God, pouring Himself into a human flesh with all its limitations, and living for three decades on this earth? I can't, it defies the imagination. Even more so, His sacrifice of becoming flesh so He could die for our sins is for all time. He will never go back to being Spirit, but is the once for all sacrifice (Heb 10:10) and will remain glorified flesh forever. (Luke 24:36-43).

Epiphany, by Giotto, circa 1320
In His compassion, He seeks you, He draws you, He enlightens your depraved mind (Rom 10:20; John 6:44; Eph 1:18). We are too craven to seek Him on our own (Is 64:6), our hearts are too darkened (Jer 17:9) so instead He draws us to Him. This is another miracle. He seeks us fervently, and in His love, grace, and mercy, He sends the Holy Spirit to draw us to Him.
And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1:19
I look back over my life and I clearly see the stepping stones of His drawing me to Him. The first time I really heard the Gospel was when my Aunt shared with me at age ten. She also told me that there would be a day when Jesus returned for His children and the dead will rise from their graves and the living would be caught away into the air, to be with Him always. I puzzled over the physics of that, spiritually drawn to its inherent truth but unable to understand it cognitively. I liked the story, though and I kept it in my heart.

All through my early adulthood, I attended church at times on Christmas Day, because that's what you did. The Christmas season held opposing emotions for me, at one side I enjoyed the Christmas Carol "O Come All Ye Faithful", singing it with gusto. At the other hand, I was insulted by things religious. My freshman Philosophy class at State University was held in a room containing a crucifix on the wall. I hated the crucifix. I stared at it and cursed it, wanting to alert the ACLU that there were state funds being spent in a place that had religion in it. Yet for Christmas break I'd happily drive home, go to church, and sing 'O Come All Ye Faithful, Come let us adore Him'. Who did I think I was singing about?

I can see so well the work the Spirit did to keep my heart open to His truth, until the day when eventually my salvation met up with the destiny God had known about since the foundation of the world.

He pursues you, too. But here's the thing: He doesn't beg and He doesn't pursue you forever. He stands at the door and knocks (Luke 12:36; Rev 3:20). He doesn't burst in and He doesn't capture you. He is polite. He knocks. But He will not strive with man's spirit forever. (Genesis 6:3). At some point, the point at which He knows that you will not answer the knock, He graciously gives you your heart's desire: to be left alone in your sin. (Rom 1:24; Rom 1:26; Rom 1:28; Acts 19:9; John 12:40). He withdraws His spirit and gives you over to your sin.

Gen 6:3 says "Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years" and the writer of the Geneva Study Bible explains: "Because man could not by won by God's leniency and patience by which he tried to win him, he would no longer withhold his vengeance." Do not be so vain as to think He will chase you forever, pleading with you and begging you to open the door. He won't.
Do NOT be casual about your  salvation! Do not attend church today while ignoring the knocking at your heart of hearts by the Holy Spirit. Do not lead a blessing at Christmas dinner without hearing the Spirit's call to your salvation. Do not commune in love with family members without acknowledging it was Jesus who gave you the family and He asks you to become part of His. He will not strive with you forever. Today is a perfect day to settle your sin-debt to Him. All you have to do is acknowledge your sins and ask Him to forgive them, and in so doing you acknowledge that He is the Sinless Savior who alone has the power to answer your  prayer.

What a merry Christmas it would be for you to allow the Spirit's pursuit to catch up with you and to fold you into Glory with millions of others who opened the door to His offer of salvation.

Peace be with you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Guy Arkansas residents sick of three-month quake swarm

On October 15, 2010 I posted a story about an incredible earthquake swarm in Arkansas that had begun in late September. It was a 4.0 quake that caused the story to become of national interest. One news excerpt I posted reported: "Faulkner County residents had a shaky start to their Monday morning as a 4.0-magnitude earthquake rattled throughout the county. The quake, which occurred at 8:33 a.m. and was centered two miles southeast of Guy, was just one of 48 earthquakes reported since Wednesday afternoon. According to Shelia Maxwell with the Faulkner County Office of Emergency Management, the U.S. Geological Survey is looking into the recent earthquake activity in the area. “We’re having them (earthquakes) in places we’ve never had them before,” Maxwell said. “The USGS is looking into why we’re having them and why there have been so many.”

Jesus said that there would be earthquakes in diverse places. To me that means places that do not usually experience earthquakes will have them, and at not only the surface location but the depth. Deep-focus quakes are quakes aren't supposed to happen, but they do, occurring in the very deepest parts of the earth. Last July, a series of quakes occurred in the Philippines which were 400+ feet deep that scientifically were not supposed to be able to occur. Deep-focus quakes are rare, just as rare as ongoing quake swarms in Arkansas. At one point during the Arkansas swarm, Oklahoma radio jockeys even joked that though they had experienced one strong quake (for them) at a 4.8 magnitude on the Richter scale, they felt left out because neighboring Arkansas was getting all the attention. So, earthquakes in diverse places.

Since last September, the Arkansas tremors have never stopped. The earthquakes have continually shaken, and shaken, and shaken the ground and have never ceased rattling nerves for a second. CNN reports today, "Central Arkansas growing weary of relentless tremors."

"More than 500 measurable earthquakes have been reported in central Arkansas since September 20, ranging in magnitude from a barely noticeable 1.8 to a very noticeable 4.0 (recorded on October 11), according to the U.S. Geological Survey.Geologists can't say whether they'll stop anytime soon. ... Meanwhile, Sam Higdon, the mayor of Guy, says the quakes' novelty is worn out. "I think everyone just kind of figures maybe it'll just go away," he said. "And that's what we're all hoping."

The New Madrid Seismic Zone is in the northeast corner of Arkansas and was home to one of the most devastating earthquakes to occur in the continental US, back in 1811-12. Faulkner County's town of Guy Arkansas is 200 miles away from the New Madrid seismic zone, though the area is historically seismically active in a minimal way. In reviewing the Arkansas Geological Survey spreadsheet on Arkansas seismicity for 2009, Arkansas statewide had 39 measurable earthquakes last year. Eight were in Faulkner county. This year, over 500 occurred in central Arkansas alone.

The disciples asked Jesus when He will come back. "And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs." (Mt 24:4-8) "But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:28).

The Arkansas ongoing quake swarm is another warning to the lost and dying world that He is about to return, in wrath and judgment. But for the believers who are saved and eternal, we know that His sooner arrival for us in the air is even closer. No one needs to perish, all can come to the glory of God even though we fall short. How? By recognizing our sins, that we do sin and each and every sin is an affront to God and creates an incredible rift between us humans and Him Who made us to have a relationship with. Is it a coincidence that just at the time Jesus said there would be famine and wars and earthquakes and signs from heaven that we are experiencing more famine and wars and earthquakes and signs from heaven than ever before? That we are experiencing things that science has no clue as to explain? That the world is in perplexity with no rational explanation yet there are historical events and statistical anomalies occurring all over the place? Daily?
Well, it is not a coincidence. One cannot separate our behavior and our rebellion from God's promises of warning, then judgment. It is happening: the warnings are continuing this long because of His mercy and His love for us, that none should perish. But eventually many will perish because they refused to heed the signs. Don't let that be you. Ask Him to forgive your sins and accept that He is your Sovereign King whose glory is immeasurable and who is worthy to be served. His grace abounds and I pray that you will see His light and become one of His lights in the world ... before it is too late.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jesus as High Priest

There are many aspects to the Lord's personality, aspects we have been given through His grace to explore for all eternity. We will never learn all there is to learn about Him, because He is infinite, but the glory will be in the journey, drawing ever closer to Him.

The Christmas season rightly focuses attention to Him as savior, the babe born of a virgin and who lived a sinless life, died as the sacrifice to satisfy God's Holy righteousness and fulfill the sin-debt that must be paid. We usually focus on Him as Savior, friend, father, and occasionally as judge. But there is another aspect to Him that I would like to explore today: Priest.

David refers to the coming Messiah as a priest on the order of Melchizedek. "The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind. You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." (Ps 110:4)

Caption: (Cf. Gen 14:18-20). Here the mysterious figure of Melchizedek (Cf. Heb 7:3), depicted as prophet, priest and king, goes out to meet Abraham after his return from the latter’s defeat of his enemies and offers a sacrifice of bread and wine on his behalf. Melchizedek prefigures the person of Christ who, similarly shrouded in mystery, enjoys the three-fold status of priest, prophet and king and will also offer a similar sacrifice of bread and wine become his Body and Blood for us all." Source

Who was Melchizedek and why is his Order considered higher than Aaron's, the first High Priest of the Levites? We read of Melchizedek when he meets with Abraham in Genesis. He is an actual King and an actual Priest, living and walking on the earth in Abraham's day. "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; And blessed be God Most High Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." He gave him a tenth of all." (Gen 14:18-20).  The city of Salem was later known as Jerusalem.

As a side note, Talmudic tradition (not bible) indicates that the research of famed medieval French rabbi, Shlomo Yitzhaki (February 22, 1040 – July 13, 1105), better known by the acronym Rashi, and who was the author of the first comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), and is considered the "father" of all commentaries that followed on the Talmud, explains that the High Priest known as "Melchizedek" who received tithes from Abraham after he defeated the four kings in battle, was Shem, the righteous son of Noah. Tradition is not inspired word of God, so we can't know for sure, but in the end God knows who Melchizedek is.

In Hebrews 7:3 we read again of Melchizedek, and notice that there is an omission. Usually, especially in the Old Testament, people are introduced to the reader by their genealogy. "So-and-so who was the son of so-and-so and father of..." But it is specifically noted that Melchizedek has no genealogy, so we wonder how Rashi learned of Melchizedek's lineage. In any case, the personage of Melchizedek is certainly righteous, for no other reason that Jesus is High Priest in that Order. Anyway, the story of the meeting with Abraham is repeated in Hebrews, and introduced this way:

'Melchizedek's Priesthood Like Christ's'
"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually." (Heb 7:1-3).

Melchizedek is referred to again in Hebrews 5:6-10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-21: "Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek"; and Hebrews 8:1. From his initial introduction at the meeting with Abraham it was another thousand years until David mentioned him and another thousand again until the writer of Hebrews mentioned him, and then Melchizedek disappears from the biblical record. But the notion of Jesus as Priest does not.

High Priests of the Temple died and their office was given to the son. But Jesus is perpetual and His office of High Priest will never die. High Priests in the temple managed the sacrifices, which were daily. Thousands upon thousands of lambs and other animals were killed, blood ran by the buckets all day every day, but Jesus is the once for all sacrifice. He IS our High Priest, forever. "Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;" (Hebrews 3:1-3)

So what does a High Priest do? They were compassionate about sins, being human themselves. They participated in the sacrificial system, managing others' sacrifices. Yet being human, they also had to sacrifice on behalf of their own sins. They represented humans before God.

In Revelation 1:6 we read that we are made to be Kings and Priests. "and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father--to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen." Again, in Rev. 5:9b-10 we read that "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Peter reveals that we as believers are part of a royal priesthood:

"you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. ... But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." (1 Pet 2:5,9). Matthew Henry writes:

"All true believers are a holy priesthood; sacred to God, serviceable to others, endowed with heavenly gifts and graces. But the most spiritual sacrifices of the best in prayer and praise are not acceptable, except through Jesus Christ. Christ is the chief Corner-stone, that unites the whole number of believers into one everlasting temple, and bears the weight of the whole fabric. Elected, or chosen, for a foundation that is everlasting."

What Grace! What Mercy! He as the Chief Cornerstone as High Priest, elects His priests and unites us in a priesthood to serve Him! We are called privileged and we are. Our duties today and forever are to offer up spiritual sacrifices to Him the Most High. Is this a good gift in your eyes? Better than an X-box or a bike or a diamond bracelet? It is a tremendous gift to be called to a royal priesthood serving the High Priest in heaven. It is a high calling. Are you living a holy life worthy of Him and making spiritual sacrifices so His name is magnified? I am rejoicing! I am singing His praises!

As you ponder the mysteries of His very Being this Christmas season, ponder Him as high Priest representing us before God. What a blessed Gift to be able to serve for Him and with him!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Government sanctioned homosexuality and staggering storms on the west coast. Coincidence? I think not.

Does anyone notice an interesting juxtaposition with Drudge's latest front page?

When individuals or nations succumb to sin, particularly homosexuality, God warns, then judges. He always has and He always will. We are the formerly blessed nation of America whose light was set up on the hill. As Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop wrote in 1630 aboard the ship Arbella, "For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. ... But if our hearts shall turn away, so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods, our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it."

The light upon a hill was a reference to Matthew 5:14-16; "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid... Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Does it glorify God to formalize and legitimize government-sanctioned homosexuality? No. And so we see just above the photo a series of headlines where unusual rains and staggering storms have arrived in California. And unseen in the photo but contained under it was another headline, "Freak diversion of jet stream paralyzing globe with freezing conditions..." These are not coincidences. They are not. The photo may be worth a thousand words, but the Word of God is the real treasure.

"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty; how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will." (Hebrews 2:1-4) Take heed!

Pope says pedophilia kind of normal

In his Christmas message yesterday, Pope Benedict shook off complete responsibility for the child abuse scandal among priests in the Catholic Church, saying that the culture is partly to blame.

Pope Blames 1970s Society for Pedophile Priests
"Pope Benedict used his annual speech to Rome's cardinals and bishops on Monday (Dec. 20) to ask them to reflect on the church's responsibility in the child sex abuse scandals. Benedict qualified his mea culpa by stating that the scandal (in which priests who sexually abused children were often ignored or protected by the Catholic Church) was partly justified by the broader social context. Benedict said that while the church accepted some responsibility, he could not be silent about ''the context of these times.... There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society." Benedict claimed that as recently as the 1970s, "pedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children." In this climate, the Catholic Church's actions were merely reflecting the moral relativism of the times: "It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself," Benedict said."

If there is anything that should wake up the people that Catholicism is a false religion this should be it. First, that there existed a climate of oppression and evil that allowed pedophilia to run rampant to such extent is a healthy indicator that the Holy Spirit Restrainer to a large degree wasn't and isn't present within the Catholic church. Man is sinful and we fail by falling into the flesh so often, so we cannot point fingers against individuals who sin unless we remove the log from our own eye first. We all sin. We all stumble. However, and this is a big however, the quantity and extent of the pedophilia is more than a brief stumble, is more than a momentary straying away from the Restrainer, is more than individuals who neglected to die daily and briefly fell prey to sin. It is systematized, organized, and widespread evil.

Secondly, Christians familiar with the bible know that we are told that the world is evil. I do not know why the Pope is surprised by the immoral conditions of the 1970s because we are told the moral conditions of the world are bad and were going to get a lot worse. (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 1:7 for starters).

I do not know why the Pope is surprised by the cravenness of man and the depth of God's hatred of sin, particularly homosexuality and child abuse. We are told these things repeatedly. (Lev 18:22-23; 1 Tim 1:9-10; Rom 1:26-27) "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." (Mt 18:6)

We are told that the world is given to the evil one, and he rules it. (2 Cor 4:4; John 12:31). We are told that we should not love the world and not to try to blend in with it, we Christians must be apart from it. (1 John 2:15-16)

Jerry Solomon wrote on "Culture and the Bible", and said,
"[T]he world is hostile toward God; this includes the rebellion of mankind. Second, this hostility was not part of the original created order; the world was created good. Third, this world is also the object of God's redemptive love and Christ's sacrifice. Fourth, the world is not to be seen as an end in itself. We are always to view culture in the light of eternity. Fifth, we are to be about the business of transforming the world. "We are not to follow the world's lead but to cut across it and rise above it to a higher calling and style."

Corinth was one of the most immoral cities on the planet, and yet Paul's messages to the Church at Corinth and the believers there are encouraging to them on how to live in a craven culture, and contain proper admonitions on how to remove one's self from the fallen society yet make a difference for the Lord in the world. For the Pope to blame the culture of forty years ago as 'partly to blame' for Priests using children as sex toys is unconscionable.

Th Pope's normalization of pedophilia is a good example of what happens when we remove our eyes from the standards of God. His Word is all we need to know for the moral barometer of Christian conduct, based on His absolutes. Though those standards are unattainable in our fallen state, He gracefully gives us the Holy Spirit as restrainer of sins. However, if we take our eyes off His attributes, His absolutes and His word, immediately we begin to normalize evil. For those of you who are shocked, saying, 'surely pedophilia is evil! Anyone should be able to see that!' I say to you that just as God's love knows no bounds, sin knows no depths. There is always a worse. There is always another depth to descend to.

Paul warned about the influence of ungodliness in 1 Corinthians 15:33. "[T]his was the second time Paul warned the Corinthians not to be deceived (1 Corinthians 6:9). He cautioned them not to take up the lifestyles of corrupt people—those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Paul knew how easy it is for people to be influenced by such adverse teachings. If not checked at the very beginning, they could begin to adopt such perverted ideas and behaviors as normal. For this reason, Paul quotes a proverb by the Greek poet Menander: “Bad company corrupts good character.” No doubt this proverb was well known among Greeks of this time. The point Paul makes here is pertinent to all people in all ages. When we associate with or take delight in the company of people with worldly morals, we run the risk of mimicking their behaviors, their language, and their habits. Before long we are no longer of Christ, but of the world with its denial of absolute authority, its rejection of the Bible as the Word of God, and its ideology of relative morality." (source)

That the Pope knows all this, was biblically warned not to be misled, understands that the world will corrupt absolutely, and still blames the culture for his priests' child abuse, is the true evil.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Slouching toward Gomorrah: Palestinian state now recognized by 13 nations

I've been writing about a troubling notion taking root in the discussions revolving around the Middle East morass known as "peace talks." In July 2009, then- EU top diplomat Javier Solana cut through all the hyperbole with a simple but devastating statement. Solana-

"called for the United Nations Security Council to recognize a Palestinian State and the two-State solution by a certain deadline even if Israel and others did not. After a fixed deadline, a United Nations Security Council resolution should proclaim the adoption of the two-State solution."

Since then, Obama has picked up the banner of "just declare it." A few months after Solana's proposition to the UN in October 2009, The Asia Times reported in April 2010, "Obama imposing a Palestinian state." It was reported: "US President Barack Obama's demands during his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Tuesday point to an intention to impose permanent settlement on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years," the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz, wrote on Monday. We may draw a similar conclusion from analyses such as the one by Tony Karon in Asia Times Online."

How about that. Just do it. After all, the European powers created an Israeli state by unilateral decision, so why not do the same for "Palestine"? Never mind the fact that initially the Israeli state contained land that was taken away to be given to the original Palestinian state: Jordan. THAT was supposed to satisfy the peoples calling themselves Palestinians as described in the Balfour Declaration. Jordan IS the Palestinian State. How soon they forget. Since 1917, more land has been taken away from Israel on the false basis that the Palestinians must have their state. Over time, Israel has given the Arabs Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, the southern zone of Lebanon, and partial control of West Bank. The Arabs always ask for more. And it appears that Solana's dastardly idea may soon come to pass and Israel will be carved up once again.

Sadly, we can say with authority that we know that will happen. It is prophesied. "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (Luke 21:24). "But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months." (Rev 11:2). I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat there I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land." (Joel 3:2)

So therefore we know that dividing Israel into small bits will occur and all or part of Jerusalem will be given over. What we, as the terminal generation are watching, is the prophecy being prepared for fulfillment right before our eyes. There are extremely troubling developments  occurring this week:

On December 13: Erakat Asks EU to Recognize Palestinian State Alongside Israel. Now, Saeb Muhammad Salih Erekat (his surname is spelled both ways) is the Palestinian chief of the Palestinian Liberation Organization Steering and Monitoring Committee. The PLO is a political and paramilitary organization founded in 1964. It is recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. In the above linked article, "Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat formally asked the European Union in a letter to recognize an independent Palestinian state."

On that same day it was reported in South America that "Brazil and Argentina recognize Palestinian State"
"Many in Latin America and around the world were asking one question following the news that Brazil and Argentina had recognized the state of Palestine in the West Bank: Why now? Among the answers, PLO envoy to Washington Maen Areikat told JTA, was the frustration with the stops and starts in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which he said created the atmospherics ripe for recognition."

On December 17 Norway formally moved toward recognition of a Palestinian State. Norway is not part of the European Union. Norway upgrades Palestinian mission
"Oslo says upgrade from 'general delegation' to 'diplomatic mission' in recognition of Palestinian Authority's efforts to establish independent state." From my understanding, an upgrade means that it is a step closer for the representations to enjoy the status of embassies of a sovereign country.

And on December 19: apparently in response to Erekat's letter, or Obama's push, or Solana's idea, that "10 EU states will upgrade their PLO missions"
"Chief PA negotiator says Palestinian missions abroad are step closer to becoming embassies of an "occupied state with defined borders."

The formalized, diplomatic steps to recognizing a Palestinian State apparently include recognizing diplomats to deploy to any upcoming new State. And that has happened from Southern Hemisphere to Northern, from West to East. Thirteen nations are prepared to recognize a Palestinian State by fiat.

Brazil has even gone a step further today, and donated land for Palestinian embassy: "Palestinian ambassador to Brazil Ibrahim Az-Zein received the title to a piece of land Monday, where the Palestinian embassy in Brazil will stand following that country's recognition of a Palestinian state earlier in the month."

In response, "Israel asks its embassies to thwart PA unilateralism" but you can see how this tide is flowing. It is flowing against God's people, and toward Armageddon, where these nations will be severely judged for their disgraceful rebellion against Him and their intrusion upon His land.

Prata's Place / Graceful Garlands: Gradual Growth

My title comes from Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland ...