Saturday, August 31, 2013

I used to want to go to Burning Man

It's Burning Man week in Black Rock Desert.

Beckoned by the desert, Burning Man's burners return
Story highlights:
--Temporary city of about 70,000 sets up yearly near Gerlach, Nev.
--Weeklong event is about freedom, creative, self-expression

"The images of Burning Man that have come out of the Black Rock Desert during the past two decades have shocked and mesmerized people all over the world. The event has become widely known as something that involves barely clothed women and men, bicyclists decked out in fur, all-night dance parties and indescribable large-scale art installations. This year, the Man burns on Aug. 31 before some 70,000 in the temporary city. As Burning Man participants, known as "burners," trek through Reno to the Black Rock City decorating the community with colorful dreadlocks, out-of-town trailers and other-era attire, one might question: Who are these burners and why do they keep going to Burning Man?"

I can answer that. They keep going to Burning Man so as to indulge the flesh.

Burning man is a free-for all party in the remote and forbidding Black Rock desert of northern Nevada. For the last 24 years, folk who want to get away from it all, create some art, hang out far from the prying eyes of society or simply to party, have been attending this informal and rapidly growing libertine and eclectic gathering.

The top two tenets of Burning Man as stated are:

"Radical self-reliance—" Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources."

"Radical self-expression—" Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient. Participants at the Burning Man event in the Black Rock Desert are encouraged to express themselves in a number of ways through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is common, though not practiced by the majority."

There is no plumbing, no running water, no structure and no societally normal limits on, well, anything. Participants return to regular society after the week-long party is over filthy, exhausted, sunburned and satiated.

The climax to the event is the torching of the effigy of the man, hence the name Burning Man. Each year the 'set' of and around the man gets bigger. This year's theme is Cargo Cult, after the Melanesian cult whose South Sea natives began worshiping the left-behind American detritus from WWII.

The roots of the festival were the brain child of Larry Harvey who attended a few solstice ceremonies on Baker Beach in San Francisco back in the 1980s The culmination of the solstice festival was a bonfire, where a wooden man was burned. When the original organizers stopped putting on the pagan festival, Harvey developed the idea and ran with it. Harvey says that the he was unaware that a wicker man was a large human-shaped wicker statue allegedly used in Celtic paganism for human sacrifice by burning it in effigy. Accordingly, rather than allow the name "Wicker Man" to become the name of the ritual, he started using the name "Burning Man". (Wikipedia)

So as these things always do, it has pagan idolatrous roots.

The penchant for man to collect around an object and idolize it goes far back. It goes back to the Tower of Babel. It even goes back to the Golden Calf of the Hebrews, just released from slavery.

Moses had gone up the mountain to speak with God. The people below waited. And waited. And waited. While congregated around Mr Sinai, they coalesced into an orgy of licentiousness and 'self-expression'. (Exodus 32:1-4). They waited only 40 days. Days, people, before their flesh could not be restrained. Their 'worship' became an orgy. (Exodus 32:6, Exodus 32:25)

Adoration of the Calf, by Nicholas Pouissin, 1633
"They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” (Exodus 32:8)

What they were really worshiping were themselves.

At two points in the early bible record, God wanted His people scattered, in Genesis 9:7 after the flood, which the people did not do. And secondly at the Tower of Babel, where they had collected together in the desert, erected a pagan monolith to worship. (Genesis 11:8). This time He confused the languages and they did scatter eventually.

People with their fleshly impulses, were not then nor are even now ready to live peacefully together in great, crowded cities. Why is crime higher in cities than in rural areas? More temptation, greater immoral models, and increased opportunities for envy and pride lead to crime, and of course, to sin. Would Burning Man be the same if only four people attended? No. Half-naked participants acting weird and crazy would simply be embarrassing. Someone in a fringe bikini, gladiator sandals, an orange wig and firecracker sparklers stuck in their hair walking down the streets of any town USA or even any city USA on a given weekday would receive stares and probably a police welfare check.


Burning man is said to be "the biggest party on the planet." I believe it. Left alone to seek self-expression, the unsaved flesh will always gravitate to sin. Always. And it is no different in the Black Rock Desert the last week of August.

Source UK Daily Mail

Last year, one man named his Burning Man camp "Papa Legba," after the figure in Haitian voodoo who serves as the mediator between the seen and unseen worlds. The Cult Cargo theme hearkens back to Quetzalcoatl and Osiris, two pagan 'deities'. The former is from South America and is a feathered serpent of fertility, the latter is from cultures of Egypt and was said to be the god of the underworld.

The horrifically sinful roots of Burning Man are incontrovertible. And before I was saved, I wanted to go there in the worst way.


New Orleans Mardi Gras, Wikipedia photo

I wasn't saved until I was 43 years old. That left a lot of adulthood to play around and let the flesh have its day. Yet I was a study in contrasts. My flesh would seek freedom and licentiousness (which is what 'self-expression' is all about) but whenever I'd encounter it or have an opportunity to indulge its worst excesses, my conscience would be shocked and I'd back away.

Burning Man was too difficult and too remote for a Mainer to attend, but my husband and I did explore other undercurrents of off-the-grid living. We traveled across country in a VW camper van, two older hippies at heart, looking for whatever it was that wanna-be hippies looked for. We attended New Year's Eve celebrations at sexy South Beach Miami, but were pretty tired after our late supper at Grillfish, so we took a short walk and then went to bed to escape the noise of the parties up and down Ocean Drive. We attended sunset drinking parties on Key West's southernmost beach on Halloween, but the revelry and costumes of the drunken participants grossed us out and we went back to the camper. We were at New Orleans the day before Mardi Gras was to begin, but all we could manage as far as the revelry goes was walk up Bourbon Street in the rain and conclude this wasn't for us. We escaped to a nearby bayou park and enjoyed hearing the growls of the alligators all night. We went to the freakishly bizarre place known as the Salton Sea and were so spooked we couldn't sleep, and turned on the camper and drove off at 3am.

Halloween parties, beach parties, New Year's parties, cruising parties on yachts ... all sound like fun but in the end, they weren't. Yet the flesh will not be denied, and thinking the reason I failed to really have fun was simply the location, or the style of party, or the type of people attending. We searched constantly for the change of venue and tried another party the next time.

For a long while I was jealous of Burning Man, thinking THAT was the place to be. I wanted to see the art. I wanted to look at the large-scale installations. Yet, saying you're going to Burning Man for the art is the same as saying you read Playboy for the articles. If you want art, go to MoMA, or any public park in the United States to see large scale art installations. What you are really wanting to see is the spectacle of unrestrained flesh, and the unpredictability of how far the unbridled ones with a seared conscience will go.

Solomon knew the flesh, once indulged, leaves a person feeling guilty, hollow, and a little sick and embarrassed. Indeed, I read that recent Burning Man parties have had some contention among participants, because cell phone coverage has become more and more available. Participants don't like thinking that people can snap a photo of them in all their "free self-expression" and upload it to the world to see. Sin always likes the private dark.

Kevin Rolly is a photographer from Los Angeles who has attended the festival every year since 1996. Of the fight to have cell phone availability verses the tenet of absolute freedom & privacy out there in the desert, "Rolly also feels that because most phones can upload pictures or video to the Internet instantly, "That has put more of a damper on people's freedom."

"And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

Sure it 'puts a damper' on people's freedom. Freedom as I said above, is simply another word for sin. They want self-expression, but are embarrassed at the expression that comes out. If your self-expression is legitimate, should your 'message' change the more people who might see it? If it does, there is something wrong with your 'expression.' Because, if you're a pharmaceutical executive, is this what you want your customers to remember your message as?

photo credit: brentbat via photopin cc

Because if you're a schoolteacher, is this what you want your students and parents to see?

photo credit: john curley via photopin cc
Of course not. The inhibition the conscience naturally levels makes a person intuitively understand that it is NOT about freedom and self-expression. It is about indulging wanton passions which are frowned upon by society, and for good reason. They are sins against God and there is nothing new under the sun. Not even the sun of the Black Rock desert. Solomon said of the vanity of self-indulgence, in Ecclesiastes 2:1, & 10-11,

"I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. ... And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun."

At Burning Man in the remote desert, revelers, there is nothing new under your sun, except guilt and shame.

Thanks the gracious Lord that he gave us the Holy Spirit to indwell us. After we repent unto salvation, He helps us restrain this hot wind of l-ust and revelry. He instills in us good desires. He helps us re-orient our heart to the things above and not the things of the flesh. Our Lord eternally satisfies. In Jesus, there is no need to drive a camper van from city to city in and out of holiday after holiday, looking for what will be sure, this time, to satisfy. Jesus always satisfies the eternal longing that sends people to Burning Man. After the Man is burned and the people return to life as normal...they will feel the desert wind leaking from their hands, evaporating even as they begin dreaming of the next time. Come to Jesus and be satiated with Him.

"The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil." (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

7.0 quake rocks Alaskan Island, aftershocks continue

7.0 Quake Rocks Alaska's Aleutian Islands
"Several aftershocks rattled a remote Aleutian Island region off Alaska in the hours after a major 7.0 temblor struck with a jet-like rumble that shook homes and sent residents scrambling for cover. At least three dozen aftershocks, including one reaching magnitude 6.1 in strength, struck after the major quake Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. "I heard it coming," said Kathleen Nevzoroff, who was sitting at her computer in the tiny Aleutians village of Adak when the 7.0 temblor struck at 8:25 a.m. local time, getting stronger and stronger. "I ran to my doors and opened them and my chimes were all ringing."

"There were no reports of damage or injuries from the earthquake, which occurred in a seismically active region. It was strongly felt in Atka, an Aleut community of 64 people, and the larger Aleutian town of Adak, where 320 people live. The earthquake and the aftershocks didn't trigger any tsunami warnings, but Michael Burgy with the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, Alaska, said the center is monitoring for potential tsunamis caused by landslides, either on land or under water."


Source, USGS

As of 7:15 AM on August 31 (EST)

Earthquake List/
Magnitude/ Location/ Date

5.2 100km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.6 29km NW of Nikiski, Alaska 2013-08-31
5.1 103km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
5.2 97km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.0 127km NNW of Kodiak Station, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.4 124km NNW of Talkeetna, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.9 119km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.0 118km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.2 111km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-31
5.2 99km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.3 111km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.8 102km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.5 105km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.3 148km SE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-31
5.5 108km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.9 113km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.8 124km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
5.9 106km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.5 115km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.9 93km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.7 99km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-31
3.8 119km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.5 103km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-31
4.8 97km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
5.4 108km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
5.8 0km S of Benzilan, China 2013-08-30
3.0 51km S of Estacion Coahuila, Mexico 2013-08-30
2.7 79km SSE of Akutan, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.3 95km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
5.0 96km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.7 87km SE of Old Iliamna, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.1 78km E of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.3 108km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.3 90km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.6 88km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.6 107km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.9 91km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.5 111km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
2.5 101km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.0 113km SE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
2.9 37km S of Ester, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.5 98km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.8 83km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.1 103km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
2.6 87km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
2.8 109km W of Cantwell, Alaska 2013-08-30
4.7 113km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.1 106km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
2.9 98km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.3 97km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.3 102km SSW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
3.6 106km SW of Atka, Alaska 2013-08-30
7.0 94km ESE of Adak, Alaska 2013-08-30

Isn't it amazing that a huge earthquake like that plus all the aftershocks occurred, yet there were no deaths, no injuries, and no damage discovered so far. The Lord will not always be so generous. The bible records several prophetic quakes still to occur in the future which will yield maximum damage. One will happen in Jerusalem where a tenth of the city falls and 7,000 die. (Revelation 11:13).

Revelation 6:12 records a mega-quake. "I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red,"

Another in Revelation 8:5, Revelation 11:19, and a HUGE one in Revelation 16:18, such as no man has ever seen before.

In an essay I wrote last night I'd called for repentance from among the brethren for daily sins post-salvation and repentance unto salvation for those who are unsaved. While not every earthquake is a judgment from God, it is wise to think of Him anyway when one occurs. He is the Lord of the Earth and everything in it. Please consider these things.


Further Reading

Language of God: Earthquakes

Why Does God allow natural disasters such as earthquakes? 

Does the bible offer insight on why natural disasters occur?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Rome airport vent IS deemed volcanic in origin, plus other earth changes

On Sunday I'd noted an unusual event occurring at Rome's Fiumicino airport. A geyser had opened up unexpectedly at the end of one of the runways. Fiumicino is the fifth busiest airport in Europe. Then On Monday I'd commented about the new ground vent in light of the end times.

Scientists have been studying the gases emanating from the vent and trying to make a determination as to what it is. Did it happen due to a broken water pipe? Is it a hot spring? Is it a volcano? Experts were making their tests to find out.

The Malta Today Newspaper reported today that scientists have determined that it is volcanic in origin.

Small volcano discovered near Rome airport.
Geologists have begun studying the hole, labelling it a ‘fumarole’, an opening in the earth’s crust.
"The nearest possibly still active volcanic system in the area is the Monti Albani, an old but possibly not yet extinct volcanic complex located 20 km South East of the capital; but its last known activity there took place about 20,000 years ago. New volcanic activity in the suburban area of Rome itself is certainly not completely impossible, but quite unlikely scenario. More data will be needed to shed light on this."

The UK Telegraph also reported,
"A geyser-like vent, known as a fumarole, opened up near a road crossing in the Italian capital on Saturday morning. The small opening in the Earth's crust, has been filmed ejecting mud, water and steam near Fiumicino. Italian geologists are currently examining the phenomenon."

The Telegraph also has a video of the thing, glurping up steam, ash and mud.

Reporters use words like 'phenomenon' and 'unlikely' and 'perplexing.' It seems strange that a volcano could be born under an airport in the middle of one of the oldest cities in the world. When we think of volcanoes we think of them being in the jungle or under a National Park like Yellowstone, or in the desert or an uninhabited island far away. We don't think of volcanoes being under a bustling city. The posters for the movie "The Day After Tomorrow" depicted tornadoes razing Los Angeles and were jarring because of the juxtaposition of 'natural disaster' taking down a concrete city, which we think is so strong.

Just because man has altered the geography in a certain area, and made a city, doesn't mean God can't simply do what He wills anywhere on earth at any time.

"Of David. A psalm. The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;" (Psalm 24:1)

In other earth news, from space, we read from SpaceWeather that "CME WILL NOT HIT EARTH, STORMS POSSIBLE ANYWAY: A coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled into space yesterday by an erupting solar filament will not hit Earth. However, a solar wind stream will. The stream, which is flowing from a coronal hole in the sun's northern hemisphere, is expected to arrive on August 30-31, possibly sparking polar geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

MAJOR FIREBALL EVENT, UPGRADED(AGAIN): NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office has upgraded its estimates of a major fireball that exploded over the southeastern USA around 2:30 AM on August 28th. Lead researcher Bill Cooke says "the fireball reached a peak apparent magnitude of -16, about 20 times brighter than a Full Moon, and cast shadows on the ground. This indicates that the meteoroid had a mass of more than 110 kg (240 lbs) and was up to a meter in diameter. It hit the top of Earth's atmosphere traveling 25 km/s (56,000 mph)." Watch the movie, then read more about the fireball below. This is the brightest event our network has observed in 5 years of operation," he continues. "There are reports of sonic booms reaching the ground, and data from 4 doppler radars indicate that some meteorites may have fallen along the fireball's ground track."

It is so strange to think with all that power, all that brightness and magnitude, that at a certain point in the Tribulation, Jesus will simply say "STOP" and the sun will stop shining a third of its light. How precise He is! How powerful He is!

"[Fourth Trumpet: The Heavens Struck] Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine, and likewise the night." (Revelation 8:12)

And then later in the Tribulation, Jesus will say something like 'let there be dark' and the sun will go OUT.

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken." (Matthew 24:29)

In other space news, this is cool. "Hubble telescope spots 'cosmic caterpillar' that's six TRILLION miles long, formed by harsh winds from some of our hottest stars" A previous study has called the object, which lies 4,500 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, a ‘tadpole in an interstellar pond.’

That's so cool! And pretty! The LORD created all the stars. This powerful fact is almost written as an afterthought in Genesis.

"God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars." (Genesis 1:16)

Here is the NASA Hubble zoom sequence. Watch this 30-second video and ponder the fact that God made each and every star you see there and named them, too. I am in awe of our Creator.

"He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names." (Psalm 147:4).

One reason I love to read news and science articles like these is because I love to think of how BIG our God is. If there is a star incubator out there in space (as the scientists call it) that is a trillion miles long, how big is God? And how do we dare to defy Him? How dare we ignore Him. His creation is all around us and it is genius and beautiful.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:18-20).

If you are in Jesus today, praise and thank Him that you are saved by His grace. Thanks Him that you will personally see all the stars when He brings you to His home in heaven.

If you are not in Jesus, please repent of your sins and believe the Good News. Sin must be punished, but Jesus took all the wrath of God as your punishment while He was on the cross, so that all you need to do is confess your sins, and believe in the Resurrected Son's work on the cross. Rejecting the Son means you reject the forgiveness He has extended to you, and you opt for the punishment. That punishment is God's eternal wrath in hell.

I am grateful to my Lord who has done this great work, work that even the angels long to look into. (1 Peter 1:12). I hope that you are moved by the beauty and wonder of seeing a powerful God who has done these things such as make a star nursery, a volcano, a fireball, space itself. As powerful as He is, His greatest work is transforming a stony heart full of sin into a loving heart full of His grace and glory.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The burden of sin and its heaviness upon the earth

Psalm 38:3-4 speaks of the burden of sin. Sin is heavy. It weighs on a person. David certainly felt the weight of his sin, he wrote about it in Psalm 38. Here are verses 3-4

"There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me."

In verse 8 David says the guilt associated with his sins have crushed him. Sin is heavy.

Some women feel the weight. As 2 Timothy 3:6 reminds us, "For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,"

"Weighed down" indeed.

In another verse we see the weight of sin upon a nation, not just an individual, as Ezra desribes.

Ezra felt the weight of sin. He prayed to God in Ezra 9:7, saying: “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens."

Again, we read the allusion of sin piling up to over our heads. As MacArthur explains of the verse, "Even though Ezra did not participate in Israel's sins, he understood that the sins of the few contaminate the many."

The sins of the few contaminate the many... hold that thought.

Individuals feel the burden of sin, nations feel the burden of sin, and the world feels the burden of sin. See this next verse:

"The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it, and it falls, and will not rise again." (Isaiah 24:20)

Sin is heavy!

EPrata photo
Now, I am not saying that sin is literally heavy, though it feels that way sometimes. It's like when we say "He has a heart of stone". His heart is not actually stone.

We see snow-laden branches struggling to remain attached to the tree. Each snowflake is light but an accumulation of them will bend and break even the strongest of branches.The weight of sin is a weight of guilt, of conscience, of a burden carried within, metaphorically. Or IS it only metaphoric?

Martin V. Day of the Department of Psychology, Princeton University, and D. Ramona Bobocel of the Department of Psychology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada conducted an experiment. Their findings were released in July 2013. The thrust of the experiment was along the following lines:

"In everyday language, guilt is treated as a tangible substance—people bring guilt upon themselves, carry it, or are weighed down by it. Similarly, feelings of guilt can be expressed as a “weight on one's conscience.” Such metaphoric language suggests that guilt has properties similar to an object with real weight. On the one hand, weight-related adjectives may merely represent traditional descriptions of guilt. On the other hand, guilt is a real emotion, and the heaviness of guilt may be embodied as a feeling of weight. In this paper, we tested whether the experience of guilt is grounded in sensations of increased weight."

The researchers screened out variables regarding weight and perception, and masked the purpose of the study. They found some interesting conclusions. Guilt was the only negative emotion which significantly raised the subject's perception of heaviness. For example, those subjects feeling emotions of disgust, sadness, pride did not report any attendant feelings of weight. Their conclusions were that...

Encased even 1/4 inch of ice,
branches snap like matchsticks.
"...participants who recalled an unethical act reported significantly more weight compared to those who recalled an ethical memory or an unethical memory of a distant other person ... the present research revealed that personal experiences of immorality can be partly understood by sensations of weight, and that guilt appears to have some responsibility for this effect. Although guilt is literally weightless, we demonstrate that the embodiment of guilt can have consequences as if it does indeed have weight."

You can read their study here. It isn't long and they use plain language for the most part.

So I got to thinking...individuals feel the weight of guilt, and nations feel the weight of guilt, the world feels the weight of guilt....and the world will stagger under the weight of the guilt at the end of the last days... is THAT the feeling I've been feeling lately?

I am serious. Recently I've been feeling the weight of...something. I always feel the weight of my own guilt, and that weight gets heavier the more I am grown by the Spirit in Christ-likeness. As my sanctification increases, so does a super-sensitivity to my own sin.

But it's more than that. It feels lately as if the very air has grown thicker. As if the very world has grown heavier. It feels like I'm in an antique diving suit, trying to walk through mud and molasses.

I got to thinking about the weight of sin, and David's anguish over his guilt...and the women loaded down with sins...and Ezra's burden of the nation's sin... and Isaiah's expression of the world tottering under the transgressions that have piled up. Some days it seems like a lead blanket has been shaken out and is settling slowly on the world, weighing down all peoples. Like Ezra, who understood that the sins of the few contaminate the many, we also feel the weight of the world's guilt and are contaminated by it. If Ezra felt it when 'few' were sinning, how much more weighed down do we feel now, when so much of the entire world is rebelling against the LORD and weighed down with guilt for their sins? It's like that lead apron they put on you when you go for an X-Ray.

O Lord, please release us from having to move in this ponderous world laden with an atmosphere of a murky soup of sinful souls.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Will Israel enter the fray regarding Syria?

I am watching the Middle East situation carefully. I have some concerns regarding if the conflagration will widen, and if it does, whether some of the prophesied wars will begin. I don't know if the time is now or not, but it seems to me that we have had so many near misses of late (in the last 4 years) and those near misses are coming faster and more frequently, that they seem like birth pangs to me, ready to break water and flood the world with Tribulation. That is my opinion. In any case, we know that the last days wars will happen and one of these days they will begin. I just happen to think it will be sooner rather than later.

In watching the news and reading the Old Testament prophets, I noticed something that Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee Chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman yesterday struck me. He said--

"that Israel does not want to become embroiled in the Syrian conflict, but may have to hit back if it is struck. ... Lieberman said that Israel does not want to enter the fray against Syria but added, “We may have no choice, but I hope that everyone knows how to read the map correctly and understand that Israel has no interest in entering the whirlpool of the Arab world.” "

What I believe he was referring to is that Israel is a tiny nation, completely surrounded by implacable enemies. If the situation goes south in Syria, well, Israel is to the south and undoubtedly Israel will receive either purposeful targeting or accidental blowback. Either way, the job of the Foreign Affairs Secretary is to protect the people.

However, when has that situation ever been different? Israel has always been surrounded by implacable enemies. We we do know how to read a map and we do know that at some point every single one of those enemies abutting the tiny nation of God's people will attack. Many prophecy interpreters believe that battle is prophesied in Psalm 83.

Psalm 83 is an imprecatory psalm, imprecatory meaning calling a curse upon someone or on a nation. In Psalm 83 Asaph is calling for God to intervene against a coalition of nations which are colluding to attack Israel.

The reason some interpreters think this is an unfulfilled prayer is that the particular configuration of nations who are colluding and attacking have never joined up to attack Israel in history past. Though parts of the psalm have been fulfilled and now are history, the psalm has not seen fulfillment in the exactly as described. So they believe it is still future. Here are the first 8 verses to the Psalm:
A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.

1 O God, do not keep silence;
do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
2 For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
those who hate you have raised their heads.
3 They lay crafty plans against your people;
they consult together against your treasured ones.
4 They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
let the name of Israel be remembered no more!”
5 For they conspire with one accord;
against you they make a covenant—
6 the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites,
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Asshur also has joined them;
they are the strong arm of the children of Lot. Selah

The nations named also in today's modern language, are:
  • Edom & Moab, are southern and middle Jordan.
  • Ishmaelites, Hagrites, and Amalekites are descended from Hagar and Ishmael, and settled in southern Jordan and Saudi Arabia. (Map shows Amalekites being solely in Egypt, again, this is another interpretation)
  • Ammon is norther Jordan. Its capital today is still Ammon.
  • Gebal & Tyre are in Lebanon.
  • Philistia is Gaza.
  • Asshur is northern Iraq and western Syria (Assyria)
So in reading the map, we see that Asaph is pleading for deliverance from a coalition which intends to wipe Israel from the map.

Be advised that there is a lot of disagreement about the purpose of this psalm (imprecatory only? partially prophetic?) and its fulfillment's timing, (past? present? or still far future?)

One thing I like to do is look at the bible's end and work backward. We know that in the end, all nations will be against Israel. (Zechariah 12:3). Backing up some, we know that in Ezekiel 38-39 another, different coalition attacks Israel while Israel is dwelling securely. We know that battle is going to take place in the latter days because it says so in Ezekiel 38:16. Also, in Ezekiel 38:22 God says He will rain down sulfur on the hordes coming to attack Israel. This has never happened.

So the coalition named in Ezekiel's attack are are non-abutting neighbors of Israel. Israel's abutting neighbors are all named in the Psalm 83 prayer. It is thought that the victory given Israel over the Psalm 83 coalition nullifies them and takes them out of action. So when the second waves of attacks comes in Ezekiel's coalition, it is subsequent to Psalm 83 because none of the nearer inner circle is named. Logic dictates they would be part of this attack if they could be. Others wonder about Israel dwelling securely, without bars or walls. What could make Israel lower their security vigilance? Perhaps the fulfillment of Psalm 83, where Israel vanquishes all her abutting enemies and is dwelling safely in the land? (Ezekiel 39:26)

If you think of satan's attempts to get rid of Israel, as Israel being the bulls eye, and Psalm 83 being the first wave, then Ezekiel 39-39 being the widened wave of a larger and further-afield coalition of enemies, and then culminating in Armageddon with all the world coming against her, this seems to be the prevailing thought on the successive prophesied battles of the latter days.

Mr Lieberman is right. Anybody looking at a map can see that Israel is surrounded, small, and in all likelihood, going to be obliterated. However, that is not in God's plan. As surprising as it is and as it will be to those who dwell on the earth, Israel is in fact an immovable rock, and those who try to dig her up or push her over will themselves be injured. (Zechariah 12:3).

If only Mr Lieberman knew that his nation has the only perfect and strong protector! What comfort that would be as all the missiles are aimed at her, as all the hordes storm the mountains like insects. As the bombs come down, the Lord will personally bat them away! (Ezekiel 39:3)

"The fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and the beasts of the field and all creeping things that creep on the ground, and all the people who are on the face of the earth, shall quake at my presence. And the mountains shall be thrown down, and the cliffs shall fall, and every wall shall tumble to the ground." (Ezekiel 38:20).

Not that Israel won't be harmed at all during the Tribulation, she will, (Zechariah 14:2) but the Lord God Almighty will not let His people nor His designated land be overrun or destroyed at the hands of the Gentiles. He keeps His promises. Though we do see by the map that tiny Israel is beleaguered, beset, and besmirched, she will prevail in the end. That is because God always prevails in the end.

“And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel." (Ezekiel 39:7)


further reading

Fears of a Larger War in the Middle East
"Will the phrase “Guns of August” one day refer not only to the prelude to World War I in 1914 but also to the prelude to a Middle East war in 2013?  That is the ominous question posed by Roger Boyes, the diplomatic editor of the Times of London and a foreign correspondent for the past 35 years.  “The direction of events in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran should keep us awake at night. History is taking a dangerous turn,” he writes. “The region certainly cannot sustain two wars — Syria’s bloody insurgency and a near-civil war in Egypt — without wrecking established peace treaties and the normal mechanisms for defusing conflict.”

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How easy it will be for the current race violence to turn to Christian persecution

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. (Proverbs 10:12)

This is an eternal truth. Though there are only a few words in this proverb, the truth of both halves of the verse (hate-love) cover the entire world. It covers all human behavior. It was true 6000 years ago (Cain vs. Abel) and it is true now (Muslim vs. Christian) and it will be true in the future (Armageddon unbeliever vs Jesus).

When a person hates, it stirs up strife. That strife first appears in the heart, which has its own evil passions. Another Proverb tells us that from the heart flow all springs of life, (Proverbs 4:23). Pulpit Commentary explains, “The fact here stated is that the moral conduct of life, its actions and proceedings, are determined by the condition of the heart. If the heart is pure, the life will be pure; if the heart is corrupt, the life will be corrupt. “

Next, if the heart is not guarded and the issues which spring forth in life are not dealt with, the mouth will begin to give voice to the strife within. (James 3:6a). Matthew 15:18 clearly ties the two together: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

Finally, if the heart and the mouth are not restrained, then the person will begin to act on the corruption that is coming out. (Galatians 5:19-21). That is the way of the wicked.

We see this progression now in America. There is a rising race hatred which is causing riots, mobs, and individual beatings and killings, just on the basis of race. I am talking of black people killing white people simply on the basis of race-hatred.

A spate of news items in the last weeks has shown us that this particular kind of hatred is rising. Once hatred is found in the heart, if it is not addressed, and it rises to the mouth, it then is expressed in violence. This seems to open the floodgates. Just think of the spate of mob violence at fast food restaurants we saw in the news about 6 months ago. It seemed that every day there was some sort of altercation from a customer who, enraged for some reason or other, beat the cashier for a wrong order or a wrong look. Hatred and violence comes in waves, and now we see it in race violence.

I envision that hatred easily turned from race baiting and violence against white people to violence against Christians. After all, this is satan’s ultimate goal.

Jesus said that this would be the state of things in the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:7 He said, “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”

The word for nation against nation is ethnos. It means a people group against a people group. The Greek is defined here in Strong’s concordance, ‘people joined by practicing similar customs or common culture’. This is a perfect definition of white against black, or as in Bosnia, Bosnian Croat against Bosnian Serb. Gentile against Christian. In other words, a people who live in the same nation, but are otherwise divided by artificial lines within their same culture.

I am deeply concerned that the hatred we are seeing today in America, percolating in hearts and rising to the surface to evidence itself against those of different color, will soon be perpetrated against the Christians. It would only take a slight spark to ignite that fire. This is because it's what the world is hurtling toward, anyway. By the time the Tribulation comes, the entire world, every nation, every people group, and every kingdom will hate the Christians and make war with them- and overcome them. (Revelation 13:7, Revelation 12:7).

Our job is to make disciples, share the Good News of the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, even as the world increasingly rejects this message. However, there are still people being converted. There will still be people converted by His grace throughout even the darkest days of the Tribulation, before the mark of the beast settles the dividing lines once and for all. So certainly now, share the Good News!

As for us who are already in Christ, please be ready with a mental mindset and a heart condition of coming persecution in the US...Canada...Australia... "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you." (1 John 3:13)

Therefore, do not react with surprise or anger at anything from mild rejection to killing persecution, for "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Here are the news clips from the race violence

3 Blacks Randomly Kill White Man In TN. Mainstream Media Silent
"Memphis--A young white male was walking to his car on a city street late at night on August 12, when he was confronted by a trio of black individuals. They shot him dead. Police have arrested three people and charged them with first degree murder. But some in the victim’s family can’t understand why the shooting is being called a “failed robbery” when they say the evidence suggests something possibly more sinister: a hate crime."

WWII vet, beaten by teens outside Eagles Lodge, dies
"WWII veteran Delbert Belton survived being wounded in action during the Battle of Okinawa only to be beaten and left for dead by two [Black]teens at the Eagles Lodge in Spokane on Wednesday evening. Belton, 89, died from the injuries he suffered in the beating Thursday morning at Sacred Heart Medical Center."

Don’t Ignore Race in Christopher Lane’s Murder
"Australian Christopher Lane was killed on Monday in Oklahoma by three teens, one of whom has said they were just “bored.” The right is complaining that the media is making nothing of the fact that two of the teens were black whereas Lane was white, as opposed to the massive alarm sounded in cases such as white (or white-ish) George Zimmerman killing black Trayvon Martin. And again the cry was heard that there is more “black-on-black” or “black-on-white” crime than “white-on-black,” and that young black men are in fact more of a problem than people like Zimmerman."

RACE IN AMERICA: 'Black mob violence' – the forbidden words
"The murder of the Australian man in Oklahoma was horrific, but not unique. Or even rare. A similar episode of black mob violence happened just a few days ago in Memphis. And a few days before that in St. Paul. And before that in Burlington. And before that in Delaware, New Haven, Madison, Denver, Flint, Peoria, Springfield, Greensboro, Green Bay, and on and on and on. This is a long list with more than 500 cases of recent black mob violence in more than 100 cities, big and small, many on video – and all unreported as being part of an epidemic of black mob violence throughout America. “Beat Whitey Night,” for example: Two summers ago, black mobs beat and robbed dozens of patrons at the Iowa State Fair for three nights in a row. They also attacked police. Ever hear about it? Didn’t think so. That is because most editors are not comfortable with the words “black mob violence.” No matter that black mob violence exists plainly and exponentially out of proportion."


The hatred for another person based on skin, now that it has been expressed in violence so regularly, will be all that much easier to express in violence against Christians. It's coming. Fortunately, the Good News is already here.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Update on the situation in Syria

Here is a quick update on the situation in Syria. It seems that it is becoming more tenuous by the day. Below, an explanation of what the bible says about the future of Damascus

August 21

UK Telegraph photo
Al Jazeera reported, "Hundreds reported killed in Syria gas attack"
"Opposition groups say hundreds killed when government forces fired rockets with chemical warheads into Damascus suburbs.'

August 22

The next day, "Aid group tallies 355 dead after Syria's alleged chemical attack; government blames rebels"
"Syrian state media accused rebels of using chemical arms against government troops in clashes Saturday near Damascus, while an international aid group said it has tallied 355 deaths from the purported chemical weapons attack earlier this week. Doctors Without Borders said three hospitals it supports in the eastern Damascus region reported receiving roughly 3,600 patients with "neurotoxic symptoms" over less than three hours on Wednesday morning, when the attack in the eastern Ghouta area took place. Of those, 355 died, said the Paris-based group. Death tolls have varied over the alleged attack, with Syrian anti-government activists reporting between 136 and 1,300 being killed."

The Havana Times reported, "Syrian Activist on Ghouta Attack: “I Haven’t Seen Such Death in My Whole Life”
"The alleged attack occurred just days after U.N. inspectors arrived in the country to investigate previous attacks. We’re joined from Syria by Razan Zaitouneh, a lawyer and human rights activist who works with the Human Rights Violation Documentation Center. “We couldn’t believe our eyes,” Zaitouneh says of witnessing the attack’s aftermath. “I haven’t seen such death in my whole life.”

U.N. chemical weapons experts visit a hospital where wounded people
affected by an apparent gas attack are being treated, in the southwestern
Damascus suburb of Mouadamiya, August 26, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Abo Alnour Alhaji

August 23-25

Syria to let UN inspect 'gas attack' site
"United Nations inspectors are to be granted access to the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus, Syrian state TV has said, with the UN saying that the Syrian government has also agreed to observe a ceasefire during the visit. It followed an agreement between the Syrian foreign minister and the head of a UN delegation to the country on Sunday. The agreement "is effective immediately and it will allow UN delegation to investigate allegations of using chemical weapons on August 22 in Damascus suburbs", the state TV reported."

August 26

Bashar Al Assad
Fearing a U.S. strike, Syria warns of global "chaos"
"A senior Syrian official said Monday that his country will defend itself against any international attack and will not be an easy target as the U.S. and other countries ramp up rhetoric in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack last week on a rebel-held neighborhood of the Syrian capital. In an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said airstrikes or other action against Syria would also trigger "chaos" and threaten worldwide peace and security."

August 26

Kerry Says Chemical Arms Attack in Syria Is ‘Undeniable’

US Secretary of State Kerry said today:
Secretary of State John Kerry

"Well, for the last several days, President Obama and his entire national security team have been reviewing the situation in Syria. And today, I want to provide an update on our efforts as we consider our response to the use of chemical weapons. What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear: The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable and — despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured — it is undeniable."

What does the bible say about Syria in the end times?

Syria is one of the nations that has been mentioned in the bible consistently since the beginning. The city of Damascus was first mentioned in Genesis 14:15. Abraham's servant Eliezar was from Damascus (Genesis 15:2). It is an ancient city and an ancient nation.

However, despite the 6000 years of history we can trace back to Damascus and the nation of Syria itself, there is one stark piece of prophecy which we can safely say has not come to pass within all that history yet: Isaiah 17:1 says that Damascus will be destroyed. Never has that ancient city been uninhabited. The prophecy says that the city will be razed and made into rubble, so that no one lives there. This has never happened to Damascus:

Behold, Damascus will cease to be a city and will become a heap of ruins. (Isaiah 17:1)

The prophecy of Isaiah speaks of a partial fulfillment in the next verses (vv. 2-3) when the Assyrians conquered Damascus in 732BC. However the city was never razed as verse 1 indicates. That is still to come.

The city of Damascus is slowly being ruined because of this two-year-old conflict in Syria. The prophecy seems to indicate that the final disposition of Damascus will be complete obliteration, desertion, and uninhabited.

If the US and other nations attack Syria, perhaps the president of Syria, Bashar al Assad will indeed unleash global chaos. Perhaps that time is now, if these unfulfilled prophecies we have been waiting so long to see will come to fruition soon. Not that we hope for people to die and go to their doom, but we do want to see the Lord come in justice and establish peace upon the earth. O, Lord, come quickly.

Meanwhile, keep watching events, but more importantly, keep reading your bible. That is the only barometer of truth.

Rome geyser at Fiumicino airport: A Comment in Light of the End Times

This weekend an unusual event occurred in Rome. Motorists on Saturday noticed smoke emanating from the ground, more specifically, from a hole which opened up close to a runway at Rome's Fiumicino airport. The hole is estimated in size to be 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The UK Telegraph reports that the smoke was in fact gas, "suspected to be a cocktail of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane. Tests are now underway. "

"While initial reports suggested the gas came from rotting organic matter trapped underground, one expert said volcanic activity was more likely. “From Mount Etna in Sicily up to the Alban hills around Rome there is a good deal of underground volcanic activity,” Alberto Basili, a seismologist at the Italian National Institute for Geophysics and Vulcanology, told the Daily Telegraph.The area covers Mount Vesuvius, which buried the Roman city of Pompeii when it erupted in 79AD, to a number of lakes formed in extinct volcanoes north of Rome."

Location of Fiumicino airport, Rome. Wiki map
There is quite a bit of volcanic activity in Italy. One of the most famous of eruptions to ever have taken place is the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in Pompeii. The volcano suddenly erupted in 79AD and completely covered the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum, just 130 miles from Rome.

Wikipedia explains of Vesuvius, "Vesuvius has erupted many times since and is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted within the last hundred years. Today, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world because of the population of 3,000,000 people living nearby and its tendency towards explosive (Plinian) eruptions. It is the most densely populated volcanic region in the world."

Did you know that Vesuvius was still active? I didn't. Vesuvius last erupted in 1944.

The gas that experts suspect is part of the mixture wafting from the hole is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is noted for its pungent smell of rotten eggs. The Minnesota Rural Water Association explains,

"Hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) can occur in wells anywhere in Minnesota, and gives the water a characteristic "rotten egg" taste or odor. ... Hydrogen sulfide gas can result from a number of different sources. It can occur naturally in groundwater. It can be produced by certain "sulfur bacteria" in the groundwater, in the well, or in the water distribution system. It can be produced also by sulfur bacteria or chemical reactions inside water heaters. In rare instances, it can result from pollution."

"What causes hydrogen sulfide gas to form in groundwater? Decay of organic matter such as vegetation, or chemical reactions with some sulfur-containing minerals in the soil and rock, may naturally create hydrogen sulfide in gas in groundwater. As groundwater moves through soil and rock formations containing minerals of sulfate, some of these minerals dissolve in the water. A unique group of bacteria, called "sulfur bacteria" or "sulfate-reducing bacteria" can change sulfate and other sulfur containing compounds, including natural organic materials, to hydrogen sulfide gas."

Decay of organic matter was one of the possible reasons the smell came from the opened hole, as stated in the Telegraph article. Another expert said, no, it is likely volcanic in origin.

Hydrogen sulfide is also known as sulfur. Sulfur occurs naturally as the pure element (native sulfur) and as sulfide and sulfate minerals. When sulfur is a gas it is called hydrogen sulfide.

Another name for sulfur is brimstone. Yes, THAT brimstone. The exact element that rained down on Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim in times past. (Deuteronomy 29:23). It is the element that is prophesied to kill a third of mankind from the smoke emanating from the horses' mouths, in Revelation 9:17-18, in times future. The Lake of Fire is filled with brimstone (sulfur) which will eternally burn. (Revelation 19:20).

Whatever is happening under Rome's airport will be revealed in time while the experts look at the situation. The point of this post is not to explain it, but to draw your attention to something else.


The book of Revelation is a book that prophesies what will happen in the last days of the last days. The events depicted there (ans in other Old Testament books as well) will bring this age to a conclusion. It is the last 7 years of history.

The Tribulation will be a time when the LORD will unleash His stored-up wrath upon the rebellious world.

The purpose of the Tribulation is clearly laid out in scripture. This not an ordinary kind of tribulation, as in trials, or troubles, or persecution. Oftentimes the pre-tribulation naysayers will deny that the church will be whisked out of the way of this period prior to its beginning, by saying ‘why should the church escape, we have always had trouble, and we have always been persecuted.”

However, Jesus made a distinction about this particular time period as being different in purpose and in intensity. He said in Matthew 24:21a, that “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.”

It is THE Tribulation, not mere troubles that the world has always hassled people on the earth. And it will be so bad that left untouched to take its natural course, the trouble would kill all flesh. the earth. As GotQuestions explains,

“The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 - 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27; also see the article on the Tribulation). The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms.”

Daniel 9:24-27 lays it out. Please read that chapter in context for the full understanding.

During this time of the Tribulation (AKA "Time of Jacob's Trouble), the earth will continually shake and quake. Large earthquakes will happen. In one, 7,000 will die in Israel. (Revelation 11:13). In another instance, when Russia and the Gog coalition attacks Israel, there will be a large earthquake (Ezekiel 38:19). In Revelation 16:18 another quake occurs, one which is described, “a great earthquake such as there had never been since man was on the earth, so great was that earthquake.”

So many things happen in such rapid succession, the left-behind, unbelieving world will not have time to emotionally or mentally process it all. A quarter of the earth’s population dies in the first openings of the seal judgments. A third of the grass and vegetation dies. A third of the seas are filled with blood and the animals die. (Revelation 8:7-9). A third of the ships are destroyed.

Can you imagine a third of the world’s seagoing vessels, carrying important cargo, food, and military personnel, destroyed? No food. And, the loss of life? Astronomical.

It will be an incomprehensible time.

When the hole at Fiumicino opened up, just imagine that happening every day, and that the hole isn’t a mere 6 feet, but hundreds of feet. And earthquakes and 100 pound hail and mountains crashing into earth and the sun going partially dark and demons flying around…

The incident at the Rome airport is one that is certainly concerning. As a reminder of what is to come, it is definitely worth pondering the implications of globally repetitive chaotic events on a scale that far exceeds what happened at Fiumicino this week.

Please let this be a reminder of being a good witness for Christ and to evangelize one and all. We are all sinners saved by grace. I was a sinner due for wrath before my conversion. Please share the Good News with people, so they can hear the wonderful opportunity awaiting them of forgiveness and escape from wrath. Christ took it, and if we repent before the rapture, we will not endure it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Volcanic 'geyser' erupts close to Rome airport

UK Telegraph reports

"Italian experts have been puzzled by the overnight appearance of a geyser crater spraying clouds of gas 15 feet in the air, yards from the end of the runway at one of Europe’s busiest airports."

This seems to be a recurring refrain these days, "experts have been puzzled" or "scientists perplexed." Here is the rest of the news article-

The crater measured about six feet wide and three feet deep
Motorists on Saturday were alarmed to notice hot, stinking gas spurting from a newly formed crater in the middle of a roundabout close to the perimeter fence of Rome’s Fiumicino airport -- less than 900 yards from the end of a runway.

Spectators gathered around the smoking crater, which measured about six feet wide and three feet deep, before firefighters and vulcanologists arrived to seal off the roundabout to prevent inhalation of the gas, suspected to be a coc-ktail of carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and methane. Tests are now underway.

While initial reports suggested the gas came from rotting organic matter trapped underground, one expert said volcanic activity was more likely.

Volcano expert Erik Klemetti (@eruptionsblog) says it's weird, but that no volcanoes exist in or around Rome, but there are plenty of hot springs. He is looking for a map of such springs now.

Stay tuned

Sunday Martyr Moment: Sanctus, Blandina, and Ponticus

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs:

Continuing the Fourth Persecution under Marcus Aurelius, 162AD

Some of the restless northern nations having risen in arms against Rome, the emperor marched to encounter them. He was, however, drawn into an ambuscade, and dreaded the loss of his whole army. Enveloped with mountains, surrounded by enemies, and perishing with thirst, the pagan deities were invoked in vain; when the men belonging to the militine, or thundering legion, who were all Christians, were commanded to call upon their God for succor. A miraculous deliverance immediately ensued; a prodigious quantity of rain fell, which, being caught by the men, and filling their dykes, afforded a sudden and astonishing relief. It appears that the storm which miraculously flashed in the face of the enemy so intimidated them, that part deserted to the Roman army; the rest were defeated, and the revolted provinces entirely recovered.

This affair occasioned the persecution to subside for some time, at least in those parts immediately under the inspection of the emperor; but we find that it soon after raged in France, particularly at Lyons, where the tortures to which many of the Christians were put, almost exceed the powers of description.

Sanctus, a deacon of Vienna; red hot plates of brass were placed upon the tenderest parts of his body; and kept there till they burned through to his bones.

Blandina, a Christian lady, of a weak constitution; who was not thought to be able to resist torture, but whose fortitude was so great that her tormentors became exhausted with their devilish work, and was afterward taken into an amphitheater with three others, suspended on a piece of wood stuck in the ground, and exposed as food for wild lions. While awaiting her suffering, she prayed earnestly for her companions and encouraged them. But none of the lions would touch her, so she was put back into prison. This happened twice.

When she was again produced for the third and last time, she was accompanied by Ponticus, a youth of fifteen, and the constancy of their faith so enraged the multitude that neither the sex of the one nor the youth of the other were respected, being exposed to all manner of punishments and tortures. Being strengthened by Blandina, he persevered unto death; and she, after enduring all the torments heretofore mentioned, was at length slain with the sword.


Lord, I am weak of fortitude, but I can be strengthened supernaturally, like Blandina, to endure all things. Would I be strong enough to pray for and encourage compatriots whilst impaled on a stick, suspended above milling and hungry lions? No. But I can do all things through You who strengthens me. You did not desert Blandina in her trial, and no matter what comes for me and my faithful brethren now or in the future, you will not desert us. You are Lord, and You are faithful.

Creation Grace: The birds

You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills;
they give drink to every beast of the field;
the wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell;
they sing among the branches.
From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
(Psalm 104:10-13)

EPrata photo

Be encouraged! "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

False doctrine is like John Prine's Bruised Orange lyric

A friend of mine recently asked me how my summer went. I said god and asked her about hers. She is a lady with whom I speak about Jesus quite often. She replied that she loves her summers so she can listen to sermons and study what the person said in it. I asked who she listened to and she said she loves Joyce Meyer, and Joseph Prince. "I love them!" she said.

Joseph Prince is a false teacher.

Joyce Meyer is a false teacher.

I went away mournful. I am also perplexed. I often speak of Jesus in my daily life, whether at work, or church, or at the store. I often speak of false doctrine and false teachers, specifically on my blog and in general at church. Sometimes if a specific situation comes up, I make an appointment and lay out specific concerns to my pastors or elders, and step back to prayerfully allow them to do their leading and pastoring regarding what I've shared.

But outside of church, I find it difficult to approach people one-on-one when confronted with a statement such as the one I was confronted with last week.

False teaching is a serious, serious issue. It is not one where we can step back and simply say, "Well, they have most of their faith right. I'll stay quiet."

If I do that, I am being disobedient. We know the bible warns us again and again that false teachers will come (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 John 4:1, Matthew 7:15, Galatians 1:6-9 ...). We are commanded to do certain things about false teachers and their false doctrine, such as warn, test, rebuke, beware, resist, avoid. (Romans 16:17-18, Colossians 2:8, 1 Timothy 5:20, 2 John 1:10). This is because false doctrine kills, perverts, confuses, deceives, exploits, and destroys. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, 1 Timothy 4:1, Jude 1:4, 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Corinthians 11:13-14, 2 Peter 2:3...). The end for these teachers is cursing, darkest hell, and destruction. (Galatians 1:6-9, Jude 1:13, 2 Peter 2:3).

Dr John MacArthur says of the importance of warning of error, firstly that it will cost the person a lot of money. False teachers exploit the unwary with greed. The unwary ones will get caught up in false teachers telling them that if they give money they will receive health or wealth or prosperity. It's crass, but it is true that the false teachers say this. More unfortunately it's true that the desperate believe it and send check after check.

But even more importantly, MacArthur explained,

"People caught up in error are cut off from God's blessing. God blesses obedience to the truth. The truth is everything. The most important thing in the universe is divine truth. And these people who hold a bible in their hand but are under false teachers are never led to the knowledge of the truth that produces the blessing."

Therefore, how can I remain silent when a precious lady tells me she spends her long summer days ingesting poison? I cannot. She is in danger. I will prayerfully seek wisdom and counsel from my Holy Spirit, and ask Him to guide me into an opportune moment to share the truth with her. I don't know her from church, so It will take special maneuvering to come alongside her again, but I must bow to the weight of glory and seek a chance to share with her that the danger of the hidden reefs is just as killing as the observable reefs.

I am reminded of a haunting and a sad song by John Prine. His song Bruised Orange recounts a tragedy that occurred long ago when songwriter and singer Prine was young.

Blogger Chimesfreedom recounted  the episode that affected Prine so much.

"The John Prine website quotes Prine explaining the inspiration for the opening lines of the song one day as he was driving to do his job shoveling snow at a church. Turns out one of the altar boys on his way to the Catholic church was walking down the train tracks. God only knows where his mind was, but a local commuter train come from behind and they had to put him in bushel baskets – what was left. I saw a group of mothers standing near the accident, not knowing whose boys it was. When they finally identified the boy, the mother broke down, and the other mothers consoled her with a great sense of relief.

Wikimedia commons

The relevant lyrics go thus:

Like a long ago Sunday when I walked through the alley,
On a cold winter’s morning to a church house,
Just to shovel some snow.

I heard sirens on the train track howl naked gettin’ nuder,
An altar boy’s been hit by a local commuter,
Just from walking with his back turned
To the train that was coming so slow.

False doctrine is like that. You could be ambling mindlessly along the tracks, lost in your own thoughts, your own world, and though the train is coming so slowly, and you could have escaped it. The slow train inexorably bears down on you with just as much killing potential as if it was a bullet train coming out of nowhere. And indeed, if you stay on that track, though the train of false doctrine is coming slowly, it will still kill you. You will be dead.

False doctrine is a tragedy because it is avoidable. You can see it coming. You can get off the track. But if  you fail to heed the warning signals, you will be dead. If you are lost in your thoughts and no one warns you of the coming disaster, you will be dead. That is why it is important to warn people about it. If you had seen that young boy on a cold winter's morning so long ago, ambling down the tracks, would you have said, "Well, surely he will turn around and see the train in time. I'll stay quiet and hope for the best"? Of course not. It is the same with false doctrine.

Speak up. Warn.

Wikimedia Commons

Movie Review: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", and a Christian comment about this secular movie

I watched a foreign film called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It was the documentary about a Japanese chef who is the world’s premier sushi chef. He is the oldest chef to ever receive three Michelin stars (the most). He has been making sushi for 76 years. He is 86 years old. He was 85 when they made the documentary.

The movie showed Jiro Ono's work ethic and his attempt to make each and every piece of sushi better than the last. He has spent his life striving for perfection. To that end, he has become world renowned. His sushi dinner costs $300 and diners must make a reservation over a month in advance.

Jiro Ono
The documentary focused on each aspect of running the restaurant and making the food: the rice from purchase to serving; the fish, each kind. For example, the octopus is usually massaged for 30 minutes to tenderize it, but at Jiro's it is massaged for 50-60 minutes. We were shown the fish market and all that goes into selecting the shrimp, tuna, and eel, among other fish. How Jiro caters to each guest individually. We see his knife skills and he discusses his life philosophy. The documentary also shows him as a man living a life; biking to work, raising children, visiting friends on a rare day off.

Jiro, right with his eldest son, left.
He was abandoned at age 9 by his alcoholic father and his mother kicked him out, saying “You have no home to come back to.” He apprenticed in a sushi restaurant at age 10 and for the next 75 years, this is what he has been doing, 18 hours a day, day in and day out. When he is not doing it, he is thinking about it, and when he is not thinking about it, he is dreaming of it.

The movie itself contains nothing objectionable. There are no profanities, no lascivious women or men, and everyone is dressed appropriately. There was a scene at the Buddhist cemetery, which was sad because it was not a Christian cemetery where there would be hope of reunion one day.
Jiro's Son Yoshikazu bikes to the Fish Market
Blogger Travis Wagner remarked of the documentary, it is an "endearing reflection on the life of an accomplished and hard-working individual." Quite true. The film is certainly that.

All in all I enjoyed the movie for seeing slices of modern Japanese life, and for the sushi itself, which was marvellously filmed and poetically presented. The movie is on Netflix and is subtitled.

The Christian comment I'd like to make is about shokunin. Jiro strives after a Japanese philosophy called shokunin. This life philosophy is defined here.

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

Another man wrote about shokunin here,

One of the most important things I have learnt about in Japan is the spirit of Shokunin. It means craftsmanship, however it is much more than that. One of the essential things is to make something for the joy of making it, and to do it carefully, beautifully, and to your utmost best of your ability. In Japan one can see this in the incredible delicate designs, or amazing machinery, and even the pride and perfection of even the cleaning staff. Similarly for a student, designer, or technologist, if you can have the Shokunin spirit you can learn to strive for innovation and make something, not only think of something, but make it, to as much as possible perfection.”

Jiro is climbing the mountain of perfection. He said in the movie, “I want to be at the top. Except nobody knows where the top is.”

He admitted that in his pursuit of shokunin, he worked so many hours and was not present in raising his two boys. He left at 5AM and returned at 10PM, departing and returning after they were asleep. Once, his son saw him at home on Sunday and half joked “Mama, there is a strange man sleeping in our house!”

In another scene he and his son went to a different town to perform a ritual at the Buddhist graveyard. They watered the plant of his parents’ grave and they are supposed to say prayers, which the son did. Jiro muttered, “I don’t know why we come here. They didn’t take care of me.” His son stopped his praying and bowing, and responded, “Shhh! Do not say that in front of the ancestors!”

Overall I was saddened by this cinematic peek into the chef Jiro and Japanese life. I thought about the difference in our lives Jesus makes.

I mentioned that he is a shokunin, where he pursues a life philosophy of service through trying to achieve perfection. In Jiro’s case, his love of fish and his culinary talent had driven him toward a life philosophy of perfect service through presentation of perfect dishes to his customers for a perfect culinary experience.

At the end of one of the dinner services, the well-heeled customers were nodding and smiling and bowing as Japanese do, honoring Jiro for his skill and complimenting him on his efforts.

So, absent the Holy Spirit, what is the point of a life striven for perfection, working 18 hour days and dreaming of sushi? When Jiro dies, he will go to hell and what will be his legacy? Nothing. Smoke, disappearing even now as I type this. Do people remember a remarkable meal? Sometimes, for a while. Usually not. It is a fleshly consumption satisfying fleshly appetites, good for nothing except to keep us alive a day longer.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”

Sadly, Jiro is working for men.

Jiro’s obvious ability produced nothing, while the fruit of the Spirit shapes our talents for God-given purposes, honing those talents & abilities into a legacy that glorifies the Son, eternally. That is the difference between a non-believer’s talent and a God-given gift.

Jiro unfortunately is the example the Preacher mentioned in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26.


"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind."

1 Peter 4:7-11 is about the speaking gifts and the serving gifts.

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

One may ask, “What is the difference between a talent and a gift?”

The difference is Jiro and shokunin. The comment Jiro made in the documentary summed up the non-Christian life. “I want to be at the top. But nobody knows where the top is.”

He understands that the top is- to use a visual example- in the clouds like the summit of Mt Everest, unscalable and hidden. It is unattainable on our own power. The top is not hidden to us Christians, though. And when one is in Christ using His gift of the Spirit for its proper use, the clouds clear and the sun glints off the snow capped top of the peak and you know that someday, you will be up there with the One who is shining that light. Jesus.

Working for Jesus makes all the difference even in the most mundane or boring of jobs. The point of working for Jesus is eternal joy in pleasing the eternal savior, a legacy that extends to heaven, and expansion of the kingdom, and pure joy in serving for His sake.

When his life inevitably ends, Jiro and all who are outside of Jesus will find that a life philosophy of shokunin was wildly off the mark. Being in Jesus, I know where ‘the top’ is, and that makes all the difference.

The Atlantic

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 ...