Thursday, February 28, 2013

News round up: lots of quakes, terrible hatred in China, superbug worries CDC, culture creep

The Chinese and Japanese are still heightening their skirmishes over the Senkaku Islands. The Australian reported today on the Japan vs. China situation--

China-Japan dispute a powder keg, says US
"Territorial dispute over the small Senkaku island chain between Japan and China is a "powder keg", according to the outgoing US assistant secretary of state for East Asia, Kurt Campbell. Mr Campbell linked the dispute to what he described as an increasingly difficult and dangerous environment for Australia, and the need for Canberra to maintain a realistic level of defence spending. "In four years as assistant secretary I've faced many difficult diplomatic situations," Mr Campbell said in an exclusive interview with The Australian, "but none more difficult than this. "I've rarely seen diplomats on both sides (Japan and China) more white-knuckled, and on both sides the sense that no retreat or compromise is possible."

This tense situation has wrought harsh feelings on both sides. This Chinese restaurant posted the following heinous sign:


Incendiary Beijing restaurant sign triggers online fury
"A sign at a Beijing restaurant barring citizens of nations involved in maritime disputes with China - along with dogs - has triggered a wave of online outrage among Vietnamese and Filipinos. The Beijing Snacks restaurant near the Forbidden City, a popular tourist spot, has posted a sign on its door reading "This shop does not receive the Japanese, the Philippines, the Vietnamese and dog(s)." Photographs of the controversial sign have gone viral in Vietnamese-language forums and featured heavily in Philippine newspapers and websites on Wednesday."

We are used to seeing headlines like this one about the Jews: "Turkish Prime Minister says Zionism a "crime against humanity.' " The pile-on of races against races and tribes against tribes is just terrible, but prophetic. Jesus said in His Olivet Discourse that one of the conditions of the Tribulation will be that

"nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places." (Matthew 24:7)

In the Greek, the words for kingdom against kingdom is ethnos against ethnos. Ethnos in the Greek means a race of people and usually refers to the Gentile world. It means a people group sharing a similar culture will be warring with each other.

I think it is interesting that though nations will rise against nations, at the very end, all nations will come together against Jesus. It seems that all Asian nations will unite and march across the Euphrates toward Jerusalem. (Revelation 16:12).

The end of the verse in Titus 3:3 says that people who were unsaved were "hated by others and hating one another." That is how the unregenerate act. But in the last of the last days (in the Tribulation), it will be a true case of the old adage, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." By the time Revelation 16 comes, the entire world (save a remnant of believers) will be enemies of God. (Revelation 16:11).

In other news, there is something fundamentalists have been saying for a long time. We have been saying that since the homosexual lobby is working so hard to normalize their perversion, other sexual situations we take for granted as evil or wrong will also soon be normalized. Polygamy or triad marriages are creeping into the mainstream, for example. But people pooh-poohed the notion that any sane society could or would normalize pedophilia. Yet, it has begun, as this writer clearly points out:

In a piece published on January 25, 2013 in World Magazine: Christian News & Views says, "On Jan. 2 the respectable Guardian published an article, “Paedophilia: bringing dark desires to light.” The title choice is more prophetic than intended, calling to mind Isaiah’s “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20). Below are excerpts, a case study in journalistic slouching toward Gomorrah."

The article is excellent in the way is parses how the liberals are inching toward normalizing this most heinous act.

There were two 6M+ quakes today, a 6.1 in Vanuatu the and a 6.9 at the Kuril Islands. There has also been a series of quakes in Oklahoma and in Nevada. On the volcano front,

Hundreds of quakes shake villages around smoking Peruvian volcano
"Hundreds of small earthquakes have shaken the earth around the Sabancaya volcano in southern Peru over just a few days and the rumbling, along with plumes of smoke spewing up to 320 feet high, have put officials on alert to evacuate the area. Peru's geological agency Ingemmet recorded some 536 quakes, about 20 an hour, on February 22 and 23 and periodic movement is ongoing."

Geologist Erik Klemetti writes, "Earthquakes and Fumaroles as Unrest Hits Peru’s Sabancaya"
"The fumarolic activity at the summit is especially notable the new steam/gas plume reached over 100 meters over the volcano (although this can also be mitigated by weather conditions) — and closely followed the onset of the new seismicity."

In terms of disease, the following warning by the Centers for Disease Control is kind of worrisome. I have been researching the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and that flu came out of nowhere and infected people at a rapid rate that is unbelievable considering the difficulty of travel and the length of time it took to get anywhere in those days. Just one day, suddenly, a new flu was born and two years later 500 million people were infected and 100 million of them were dead. Here is a news article about a superbug that the CDC is a little jittery about-

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is alerting clinicians of an emerging untreatable multidrug-resistant organism in the United States. There are many forms of Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), but of the 37 forms reported in the U.S., 15 have been reported in less than a year. The CDC said the increase in CRE means health care providers need to “act aggressively to prevent the emergence and spread of these unusual CRE organisms.”

The CDC says, "Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) are a serious threat to public health. Infections with CRE are difficult to treat and have been associated with mortality rates as high as 40-50%(1). Due to the movement of patients throughout the healthcare system, if CRE are a problem in one facility, then typically they are a problem in other facilities in the region as well."

These are but temporary problems that exist in artificial time on a temporary world. His word never fails and will never pass away. Let us praise Him as David did-

"When I am poor and in heaviness, thine help, O God, shall exalt me. I will praise the Name of God with a song, and magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than a young bullock that hath horns and hoofs. The humble shall see this, and they that seek God shall be glad, and your heart shall live. For the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him: the seas and all that moveth in them. For God will save Zion, and build the cities of Judah, that men may dwell there and have it in possession. The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein." (Psalm 69:29-36).

I hope you love His name. All His works are wondrous! What a privilege to live in these times.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

(UPDATED) Pope declares he "is not coming down from the cross", said in 1969 that the Pope takes the place of the Lord

In his farewell speech today, Sky News reported that outgoing Pope Benedict said,

"Pope Benedict told the 50,000-strong crowd he was not "coming down from the Cross", but would remain in the service of the Church through prayer."

It is not a misprint.

The Papacy is an office whereupon the occupier of it sees himself as a substitute for Christ. That is what the name of the papal office "Vicar of Christ" means, substitute.

Lest one believe that it is a mis-translation, or that the Pope did not really mean it, let's look at some of the Catholic Position Papers.

In the Catholic position paper titled the "Nature of the Papal Primacy" we read that
"In his chief ministry the Pope is obliged by the objective rules of faithfulness which derive from the revealed word of God, from the fundamental constitution of the Church and by Tradition.'[40] He has the necessary divine assistance to carry out his office. But this does not relieve him of a very grave responsibility before Christ whom God has appointed to judge everyone, alive or dead (Acts 10:42). It demands of the holder of the office of bishop of the Catholic Church humility, prudence and holiness and of the faithful continual prayer to God for the head of the Church on earth."

"However, and this is important, on earth there is no external tribunal, neither in the Church nor in civil society to which one can appeal against his decisions. The Pope must look for advice, take the steps which prudence demands in the delicate function of governing the Church, listen to the opinion of his brother bishops, etc., but 'the judgement of the apostolic See, whose authority is unsurpassed, is not subject to review by anyone, nor is anyone allowed to pass judgement on his decisions."

"We reach here, perhaps, the nerve center of all teaching about the primacy. ... 'The relation of the primacy to Christ is not only historical-causal, but also actual-causal, for in the activity of the Pope Christ himself is audible and visible. Of the Pope it can truly be said: he acts in the person of Christ.'[42] With theological wisdom St. Catherine of Siena called the Pope the 'gentle Christ on earth' but at the same time, conscious of the moral responsibility of the Pope, she urged him to exercise with fortitude his 'service of unity' in the Church, that is to say, to be faithful to his most important mission."

"The Pope,' writes Cardinal Ratzinger, 'is not just someone who speaks in the name of the bishops, a kind of mouthpiece they give themselves and which is there to do their bidding. The Pope is where he is, with a direct responsibility before God, to take the place of the Lord,"
You note the last paragraph, there is a quote by a young Cardinal Ratzinger, who we now know as Pope Benedict XVI, confirming what he said today in 2013 as he did in 1969 and as Catholic dogma states- the pope is in the place of Christ on earth. They really believe the pope is Christ audible and visible.

Over a billion Catholics are in spiritual bondage to this heinous religious system. There are many things they lack spiritually but I can think of three to address that we can point them to. First, we can point to Christ and the bible to help them overcome what it is they lack: knowledge of grace, assurance in their salvation, and trust in Jesus to fulfill all He has said.

~~~~~~GRACE~~~~~~

The simple truth at the center of a born again believer's faith is surrounded by Grace- that Jesus descended from heaven, lived as fully man and fully God for 33 years, died on the cross as the lamb sacrifice for our sins (taking upon His shoulders the wrath of God), was buried and three days later rose again. This is the Gospel.

Any person who believes these facts, and confesses them, is saved. (Romans 10:9, Ephesians 2:8). It is a free gift of Christ due to His work on the cross.

The RCC has overlaid so much on top of these simple facts, and corrupted the Gospel so thoroughly, it is hard to untangle unless a person does one thing- looks at Christ. He is the giver of grace and it is grace through faith that you are saved. A struggling Catholic can be led to these verses and sermon on these verses.  More on Grace, defined and explained, here. Bible verses on Grace, here, and still others, here.

Romans 5:15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

One way to help a Catholic is to point them to grace. They need to be drenched in the facts of grace to cut through the demonic noise in their spirit. Share with them essays and sermons that speak of the Grace of God.


 ~~~~~~ASSURANCE~~~~~~

A Catholic has no assurance of their salvation. First, they are taught they need to work to maintain it. Salvation in the Catholic system is something you earn “by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life and to have truly merited eternal life.” (source)

It must be spiritually disquieting, to say the least, to know that they must rely on our own selves to attain or to maintain salvation- and to never know where you stand for sure. Committing a "mortal sin" constitutes a rupture in a person's link to God and they become unsaved. It is the worst thing to happen, but there is a chance they can go to Purgatory after death for a period of time to have the mortal sin cleansed out of them. Purgatory is another made-up doctrine that provides a safety net as a last chance effort. Either way, a Catholic is never completely assured of entering heaven. "The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified". The grace of God and the work of Jesus on the cross was not enough you see. The gap is supposed to be filled by the Catholic.

We not only have assurance, Jesus IS the assurance. Hebrews 11 is a record of that very thing, the assurance we have that is in us and that IS Christ.

Faith, hope, grace... Gills Exposition says- "And were persuaded of them, and embraced them; they had a full assurance of faith, that what was promised would be fulfilled; and they took a kind of possession of them before hand, as Abraham did of the land of Canaan, by sojourning in it; as did also Isaac and Jacob; and all of them by faith embraced the Messiah, and dealt with, and laid hold upon his blood, righteousness, sacrifice, and grace, by which they were saved, as New Testament saints are."

Here is a video on the Divine guarantee of eternal salvation

Send them to verses which speak of assurance. Here is a page listing them.

~~~~~~TRUST~~~~~~

If you put faith in a man, no matter how many assurances he gives you, man will let you down. Popes die. Popes resign. Priests sin. Bishops fall. Trusting in a religious system will become a stumbling block. The born again believer's faith is a relationship with the One who is perfect, loving, and steadfast in His promises. He cannot fail. However, since a Catholic is taught that the atonement of Jesus was not enough, it makes it hard to fully trust a savior who did not complete the work and left it to fallible man. It is one reason that Catholic dogma states that popes are infallible. But as we can see, they are.As a matter of fact, the Catholics install Mary as co-redemptrix, needing two saviors to get the job done. No, wait, three; Mary, Christ, and pope. No wait, four, Christ, Mary, Pope, and Catholic person working toward eternal reward.

And since unregenerated man populates the halls of the Vatican and on down through Cardinals, Bishops, and priests, they sin because they are under bondage to satan. We have seen, oh, how they sin. Scratch the veneer of holiness and the corruption will come out.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27).

How earth-shaking it must be for a Catholic to put trust in a system that depends on man, and then those very men are seen to be homosexuals, pedophiles, money-launderers, and much more. If they cannot trust an altar boy with a priest, how will they trust their everlasting soul to the Pope?

Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." (John 14:1 NIV)

Solomon wrote words to the wise, saying "That your trust may be in the Lord," (Proverbs 22:19). It is wise to trust the Lord! 

Isaiah 12:2 says, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.”

Help a Catholic whose world is rocked by misplaced trust in unregenerate men to once again turn to the Lord and trust Him. Once they see that the Lord never lets them down they can begin to renew their trust in their regenerated brethren.

Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur is writing a blog series of the facts of the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. This is so that as the Pope and the RCC is in the news, we can witness clearly and with understanding of why and how the RCC is a false church. Here are the blog entries so far, in order--

A Timely Critique of the Catholic Church

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Grace vs. Works

The Pope and the Spirit of Antichrist

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: The Pope

Exposing the Heresies of the Catholic Church: Mary Worship

Each entry is concise and biblical. Please take a moment to review them, and see for yourself what the egregious errors are from this longest-running false church on earth are about.

You cal also read more here at Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry's main page on Roman Catholicism.

This moment in time is an opportunity. Never before has the Catholic Church been so prevalent in discussion and in the news. People are listening, wondering. Our opportunity is that as ambassadors of Christ, we can be His light and share the truth.  We share the truth in love, that the RCC is false, and we share the Good news, that there is a way out- the simple Gospel of Grace.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Care of widows

The bible speaks a lot about widows. It speaks of orphans and the poor and oppressed, too, but this blog entry is about widows. (Left, LeMoyne engravings, Mourning Widows, 1500s)

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is a compassionate, loving, detail oriented God. "For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him." (2 Chronicles 16:9a). He knows each person on earth, and loves His believers fiercely.

In His book, the Holy Bible, there are so many verses which speak to how we are to treat those who are the vulnerable of society. In the Old Testament there are 56 verses about widows, and 26 verses in the New Testament. His care and attention to widows is tremendously beautiful.That is because widows had a rough, rough time.
"Words that occur in the general semantic field of the term "widow" in the Bible shed light on both her personal experience and social plight. Weeping (Job 27:15 ; Psalm 78:64), mourning (2 Sam 14:2), and desolation (Lam 1:1) describe her personal experience after the loss of her spouse. Poverty (Ruth 1:21 ; 1 Kings 17:7-12 ; Job 22:9) and indebtedness (2 Kings 4:1) were all too often descriptive of her financial situation, when the main source of her economic support, her husband, had perished. Indeed, she was frequently placed alongside the orphan and the landless immigrant (Exod 22:21-22 ; Deuteronomy 24:17 Deuteronomy 24:19 Deuteronomy 24:20-21) as representative of the poorest of the poor (Job 24:4 ; 29:12 ; 31:16 ; Isa 10:2) in the social structure of ancient Israel, as well as in the ancient Near East. With minimal, if any, inheritance rights, she was often in a "no-man's land." She had left her family, and with her husband's death the bond between her and his family was tenuous."

Huebner, Mourning Widow
"[T]the loss of a husband in ancient Israel was normally a social and economic tragedy. In a generally patriarchal culture, the death of a husband usually meant a type of cultural death as well. Although the denotation of widow referred to a woman whose husband had died, because of the social context the word quickly acquired the connotation of a person living a marginal existence in extreme poverty. The widow reacted with grief to her plight, and probably wore a distinct garb as a sign of her status (Genesis 38:14 Genesis 38:19; 2 Sam 14:2; cf. Judith 8:5-6; 10:3; 16:8). Disillusionment and bitterness could easily result (Ruth 1:20-21). Her crisis was aggravated if she had no able-bodied children to help her work the land of her dead spouse. To provide for her children, to maintain the estate, and to continue payments on debts accrued by her husband imposed severe burdens. Since she was in an extremely vulnerable economic position, she became the prime target of exploitation. The fact that she was classed with the landless stranger and Levite indicates that she was often unable to keep her husband's land. (source)
This status has not changed very much over the centuries. Despite the veneer of feminism, women who are unattached through divorce or widowhood often discover they are sliding down a slope toward poverty, which this Canadian research confirms.
Many aged widows experience a decline in their standard of living upon widowhood, a pattern which is pronounced among those with limited education. Aged, 21% below the poverty line, 22% below the poverty line if have a child in care, 36% under the poverty line if disabled. (source)

"Five years down the road, median income had fallen for both widows and senior women who remained married. Among widows, median family income had declined 9.8% more than 6 times greater than the senior women who were not widowed. The study also found that not only did the standard of living for these widows decline, but more of them also fell below the low-income threshold as a result of widowhood. And once these widows were in low-income, it was very difficult for them to climb out." Statistics Canada, 2004, The Economic Consequences of Widowhood, 1990-2001.
And widows in Third World nations fare worse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Source

"In many conservative Indian Hindu families, widows are shunned because they’re seen as bringing bad luck. Superstitious relatives even blame them for their husband’s death. The widow can become a liability with no social standing, an unwanted mouth to feed. Often they’re cast out of the family home,” said foreign correspondent Trevor Bormann in a recent June, 2007 interview with Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Dr. Mohini V. Giri, for the ABC – Australian Broadcasting Corporation."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"In the hours after James Mbewe was laid to rest three years ago, in an unmarked grave not far from here, his 23-year-old wife, Fanny, neither mourned him nor accepted visits from sympathizers. Instead, she hid in his sister's hut, hoping that the rest of her in-laws would not find her.  But they hunted her down, she said, and insisted that if she refused to exorcise her dead husband's spirit, she would be blamed every time a villager died. So she put her two small children to bed and then forced herself to have sex with James's cousin.  "I cried, remembering my husband," she said. "When he was finished, I went outside and washed myself because I was very afraid. I was so worried I would contract AIDS and die and leave my children to suffer."  Here [Malawi] and in a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband's funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband's relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life."  (source)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

"In the eastern province of Shandong, a sixty-five-year-old widow had to find work on a construction site in order to pay off medical debts accumulated during her husband’s long illness. The labour contractor for the project promised her 6,000 yuan for her back-breaking work but after 82 days on the job, she had not received a single cent. ... I couldn't move the big stones, so I moved the small ones. I got tired using the wheel-barrow to move soil, so I only filled half of it each time. I had to use a big shovel to mix the cement, starting from the middle and slowly mixing it bit by bit. By night-time, my whole body was hurting, especially my waist, the pain was so bad that I couldn't sleep." (source)

The Lord is a caring Lord, and He loves His widows.

--"Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation." (Psalm 68:5)

--"The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin." (Psalm 146:9)

--"Leave your fatherless children; I will keep them alive; and let your widows trust in me." Jeremiah 49:11

We are reminded of the Lord's compassion in reading about the widow of Nain, an event recorded in Luke's Gospel.

"Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother." (Luke 7:11-17)

Gill's Exposition says, "she was a widow; and if she had been supported by her son, her loss was very considerable; and having neither husband, nor son, to do for her, her case was very affecting... And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her,.... Knowing her case, that she was a widow, and had lost her only son: and said unto her, weep not; signifying, that he would help her, which he did without being asked to do it, as usual in other cases.... and he delivered him to his mother; for whose sake he raised him from the dead, commiserating her case: wherefore, as Christ showed his power in raising the dead man, he discovered great humanity, kindness, and tenderness, in delivering him alive to his mother; which might be done after he came off of the bier, by taking him by the hand, and leading him to his mother, and giving him up into her arms: think what affecting scene this must be!"

As for widows in the New Testament, they were prominent. "It was no accident that one of the poorest of the poor, Anna, was privileged to greet the infant Messiah (Luke 2:36-38). The adult Jesus followed in the footsteps of his prophetic predecessors with his concern for the plight of the widow. He healed a widow's son because of compassion for his mother (something we just looked at in the story of the Widow of Nain, above,); he protested the exploitation of widows (Mark 12:40). He reversed the standards by which people were judged with the parable of the widow's tithe: the widow gave from her poverty while the wealthy merely offered from their abundance (Mark 12:41-42). In another parable, the church was compared with an importunate widow who kept demanding that her case be heard." (source)

If you have a friend or relative who is grieving the loss of a husband, as I do, think on how the Lord cares for His widows. It is a beautiful thing.

But think of this, too. In the first days of the unfortunate loss, the widow will be in a whirlwind of activity to make arrangements, perform duties, and getting through the initial push. After that, she will return to work, or her whatever her routine is, and her mind and heart will be occupied with making adjustments there and in dealing with her return. This second stage may continue for a while.

But then, after months have gone by, something will happen. She will realize as the dust had settled, months later, that she is alone. The "activity" will have returned to a routine level and she will not have that to distract her any more. Her brain will suddenly one day understand at a more conscious level that she is alone. And her aloneness is not going to change.

Maggie Smith as character Lady Violet on the BBC Production Downton Abbey, made a comment that speaks to this. She said "Parenting...the on and on-ness of it."

Widows one day wake up and realize, "loneliness, the on and on-ness of it." Things at that point get bleak, but there is hope. If the woman is a Christian, she will be encouraged at whatever stage of grief she is in. Please help her in the early days and the middle days and in the days when she makes her final re-adjustment to her status. Help her financially too. This also is a biblical command.

Though the Lord looks out for His widows, we are His ambassadors on earth. In this day and age, the Lord takes care of His widows through His church, and that means us. Please make a point to seek out a widow in your church, make sure she is not marginalized. See to it that she has food and her necessities are taken care of.

The Lord cares for the vulnerable of His society so He made provision for them in His word. (1 Timothy 5:1-16). He is a great and gracious Lord who overlooks no injustice against them. He loves His people deeply. We have a perfect friend, defender, and Groom, don't we?!

What to do when you feel like life is squashing you down--

Feeling a little like this, lately?

How about this instead?

"But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah. I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around." (Psalm 3:3-6)


Monday, February 25, 2013

What are "The Days of Noah"?

In Matthew 24, Jesus sat down with His disciples and He discussed with them the time of the end. The disciples had asked three questions, seen in verse 3:

"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”

Jesus began answering in verse 4, and continued answering down to verse 51, which closes out the chapter.

If you think of that block of text between verse 4 and verse 31 as a short overview of the Tribulation in chronological order, you will be doing well. Let's break it down a bit:

Verses 4-8, first half of the Tribulation
Verses 9-28, Great Tribulation. The abomination of Desolation ramps up the judgments and tips the world into the Great Tribulation. This is the moment when the antichrist stands in the Temple and proclaims himself God. The persecution of the Jews really begins. This is seen in Revelation 12 onward.
Verse 29-31, After the Tribulation, and gathering those to be judged.
Verses 32-51, general warnings and parables.

Jesus said something in Matthew 24:37-38 about the general conditions of the future times of which He is speaking-

“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. “For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark,”

Matthew 24 is a Tribulation chapter. It has nothing to do with the rapture. When the events described by Jesus in this chapter happen, the rapture will have already taken place. So we wonder how the people on earth will NOT know that the sun going partially dark and the blood in the seas and the mass slaughter and all the rest will not be signs from God, but Jesus says they didn't believe it the first time. Man was totally corrupt at that time and they laughed and mocked Noah for 120 years as he built a boat bigger than the Queen Mary, right there in the waterless desert. THAT is how deluded the sin-drenched mind is.

Something that made me wonder as to the Days of Noah is this: the demons. We read in Genesis 3 & 6 that the demons were on earth at that time. It was a time of total, saturating sin and all its attendant evil (just like it will be during the Tribulation). Here it is from the bible, with its own heading (from the ESV):
Increasing Corruption on Earth

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in a man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. (Genesis 6:1-8)
Jesus imprisoned those spirits, the demons who came down and took form and mated with women. He was angry at how they left their glorified positions and did this thing. Jude tells us they are in chains:
Jude 1:6 "“And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
After His death, Jesus went and proclaimed his triumph:
1 Peter 3:19 - "in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,"
Another verse in 1 Peter tells us of these disobedient spirits:
1 Peter 3:20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
And again, 2 Peter 2:4 about these spirits in the deepest abyss
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but threw them into the lowest hell and imprisoned them in chains of deepest darkness, holding them for judgment;
The lowest hell is also called Tartarus in the Holman Standard Christian bible and others. It is the lowest part of Hades. It is dark, gloomy, dank, and completely devoid of anything remotely good. It is a place even demons fear. The Legion of demons who possessed the Gadarene man begged not to go 'into the abyss'. (Luke 8:30). 6,000 men comprised a Legion of army men in the Roman days, so that was a lot of demons. Who knows how many are in the abyss...maybe hundreds of thousands? Those demons and others throughout the ages God has sent to the pit. It must be a very big pit full of festering demons

Now to the point. The Days of Noah...if all those demons were roaming around then, and the days ahead are going to be like the days of Noah, does that mean that adding to the general horrible conditions on the earth that these worst of the worst demons are let out of the abyss? Yes. And look how many of them there are-
And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key of the shaft of the bottomless pit; he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth; they were told not to harm the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those of mankind who have not the seal of God upon their foreheads; they were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion, when it stings a man." (Revelation 9:1-5 RSV)
I am thinking that in addition to the general conditions of the Tribulation with its complete corruption on the earth, and the mocking of the righteous and their refusal to believe, that the Days of Noah may indeed be because in addition to the others who have been sent to the abyss at various times, these same demons from the Days of Noah are going to be let out of the abyss to do their terrible work once again.

Just some thoughts. Here is a prayer from John MacArthur:

"Father, we have been led to see things that create fear and a shaking in our hearts, frightening, terrible, horrible things, prepared for those who reject You, who are alive in the day when You bring judgment. And this is but a taste on earth of hell. If it's this bad on earth, what must it be like in hell where men and women go who reject Christ? Open the hearts, Lord, of those who do not know the Savior that they may escape the terrors of Your just judgment. And, Lord, help us understanding the terror of the Lord as Paul said to persuade men. May we preach the judgment that men may know how desperately they need to escape. Give us opportunity, Lord. We pray in Christ's name. Amen."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Do not forsake the Old Testament!


Have you considered the beauty of the beginning to end of all that God has done? We may not understand all of it, but it is beautiful what He has done under the sun.

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end." (Ecclesiastes 3:11)


The bible is a beautiful perfect quilt in which each piece has its place to form the bigger picture. It is so important not to add to it nor take away from it. (Revelation 22:18-19, Proverbs30:6, Deuteronomy 4:2). The Genesis to Revelation picture is something that inspires me and spurs me to know more of Him, ALL of Him from beginning to end of Himself that He revealed. Do not forget to read your Old Testament, for Christ and the Spirit and God are there too.

The proidigal son never got to say...

Did you ever notice this? I hadn't. I was listening to Todd Friel's lecture series "Drive By Discernment" and RW Glenn made the point.

When we read the parable of the Prodigal Son, (Luke 15:11-32) we know that the elder son represents works related salvation. However did you ever notice this subtlety which also speaks to the futility of works related salvation in the younger son?

The younger son had gone off with and lived large, and had run out of money. He'd turned to slopping pigs for pay. He decides that he can do that at his father's house, so he heads home. Along the way, this younger son rehearses what he is going to say when he meets the father. Luke 15:18-24 (Geneva bible) has the scene within the scene:
I will rise and go to my father, and say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thine hired servants. So he arose and came to his father, and when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. Then the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet, And bring the fat calf, and kill him, and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again: and he was lost, but he is found. And they began to be merry."

The Father interrupts the son! The son never actually says 'Let me work for you as a hired hand'. Grace was given after the son said "I have sinned."

I love the holy word, don't you?! Worship the Father of all Grace today, this Lord's Day.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

In Defense of Eschatology

Eschatology gets a bad rap. People don't like it. And I am not talking about lost people, but Christians. Most Christians would be happy if no other Christian ever mentioned the rapture, judgments, second coming, or any of the other last things.

I personally have been told that I focus too much on the "negative." Well, call me crazy but I happen to think that being left behind during the most horrific judgments the world has ever known or will ever know is kind of negative. I happen to think that being chased and bitten by an actual demon from the abyss and writhing in agony for five months is sort of a downer. That sulfur raining from the sky would put a crimp in my day. That standing before Holy God in His wrath would be sort of a bummer. So I mention these "negative" things in hopes that someone, somewhere would heed the words and repent and live in the positive hope of His appearing.

By the way, Jesus spent more time talking about hell than heaven. Was He too "negative"? Hardly.

Not that we don't want to preach the whole counsel of God. That is important, and with only a few immature Lively eschatological hope is not escape from the troubles of the world but stubborn insistence that God's mercy will have the last word- and lived defiantly in light of that hope.exceptions, we end timers do. What I see in my friends who proclaim last things is that they DO speak and live the whole counsel of God. These are some of the most buoyant, faithful, mature Christians I know, yet they and me are deemed 'negative'. That is because as I said a moment ago, the brethren at large wish us not to speak of these things AT ALL, not that we exclusively speak only of them.

In David Lyon Bartlett 's "Feasting on the Word", we read in an essay by Martha L. Moore-Keish that eschatology has gotten
"a bad reputation among some, who hear it as pointless speculation about future events, having nothing to do with the present. Lamentations shows us that eschatology can have imminently practical implications for how we live. In the midst of the ruined city, the writer proclaims that the LORD has been and will be faithful, then he sits down to wait for that salvation to show up. This shows fierce faith that all appearances to the contrary, God will not abandon God's people. Not affliction, but mercy is the enduring character of God. Hope for salvation even in the darkest days, is this "pie in the sky, by and by"? Not if it leads to resistance amid the ruins. Not if it leads to genuine ability to survive and even thrive, in the midst of the rubble. Lively eschatological hope is not escape from the troubles of the world but stubborn insistence that God's mercy will have the last word- and lived defiantly in light of that hope."
Terrance Brownlow-Dindy of Kinder, Louisiana writes in his essay "Jeremiah, The Message"
"Not a few gospel preachers determined to “declare the whole counsel of God” exclusively, even when it means negative proclamation, have been characterized by those of the liberal and ecumenical elements as harsh, unloving, cold, and sectarian. If this is an accurate assessment of those who stand for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing less than the truth, then some ‘well-knowns’ of the cold, unloving and sectarian genre of gospel preachers would include men like -- Jesus Christ (first and foremost), John the Immerser, Noah, Elijah, and the man whose message will be the focus this study - Jeremiah. Often, Jeremiah is deemed “The Weeping Prophet,” which is clearly a designation denoting his loving, compassionate character. How do we reconcile that description of Jeremiah with the predominantly negative message that he was commissioned to preach? The fact of the matter is, being a preacher who is truly caring of the souls of others always entails preaching a message that has some negative aspects in addition to the positive. Jeremiah’s message to the children of Israel residing in the southern kingdom of Judah during the 7th and 8th centuries B.C., in fact, was two-thirds negative. Jeremiah was appointed by God to verbally “build and plant,” (positives) but only after obeying the commands to “root out...pull down...destroy...and to throw down” (Jeremiah 1:10)."
Those of us who live with a very palpable sense that the Lord is about to return do so knowing that this changes the way we live. Embedded in the future prophecy, last days verses, are exhortations for us to DO certain things. Verses tell us that in light of His appearing, we should live Godly lives, diligently. (2 Peter 3:11,14). We should encourage each other 'with these words' (1 Thessalonians 4:18). With what words? Rapture words. We should not forsake assembling - even more so as we see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25). We should pray eschatalogically. Did you know that the parable of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:2-5) is an appeal by Jesus for us to persistently pray for His return? Listen to this sermon or read the transcript to find out why. In Matthew 6:10 in the Lord's prayer He teaches us to pray "His kingdom come". It is clear that there are exhortations throughout the bible for a certain standard of holy living that is pleasing to God, and many of those standards include living in light of the last days doctrines. Ignoring the last days doctrines ignores the warnings about how to live in light of them.

And now, one caveat. For eschatology, and us, to be taken seriously, we can't make rookie mistakes. That means, not assigning a day to His return. (Harold Camping and his ilk do a lot to injure us). We cannot make vain speculations. We should not add to the general confusion. We should not connect dots that shouldn't be connected. We should not be cavalier about the lost or their left-behind status. In reference to the Peter verse, when He asked 'how then, shall we live?" he said it should be with attentiveness, diligence, holy conversation and without spot and blameless.

"Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless." (2 Peter 3:14).

Do you see the promise and the warning there? We look for such things- good! But be diligent also. Don't go beyond scripture, we must be without spot.

John MacArthur was asked about eschatology. He gave this story:
"The Bible’s eschatology is clear and I remember, perhaps the most interesting experience, eschatological experience I ever had was I got on an airplane one time down at LAX and I flew to Kazakhstan and it was 35 hours of flying to get to the back side of central Asia for a pastors conference with 1600 central Asian pastors who had just been liberated from the Russian Federation, the USSR because it had broken up under Perestroika Glasmus and they had the first central Asian pastors conference, there were 1600 Christian pastors there and they asked me to come and teach.

"I remember, I flew 35 hours, got off the flight at seven o’clock and I was speaking by eight and I didn’t stop till six days later. They were so hungry for the truth and they wanted me to teach about the church."

Well they came to me and they said, “Will you teach the future? Would you teach us eschatology? Teach us what the Bible says about eschatology?”

I said, “Okay, Friday we’ll do that.” And from Friday morning about seven-thirty or eight, until late Friday night, I taught these 1600 people biblical eschatology. Here’s the amazing part. I never knew any of these people, never met any of these people, they didn’t know anybody I knew, they hadn’t been exposed to any books that I knew about or any schools. When the day was over, they all came in, they sat down with me and they said, “You believe exactly what we believe.”

I said, “Really?” Down to a pre-tribulational Rapture, you believe exactly what we believe. And I said, “Well, that’s amazing on the one hand, but on the other hand, if all you have is the Bible, that’s where you’re going to end up.” I think the reason people are confused about eschatology, Christian people, is because Christians with bad eschatology have made bad eschatology acceptable. But your problem is, even worse, non-believers mock Christianity because of the ridiculous and bizarre things that these false teachers do. This is satanic, I believe, this is lie and deception to discredit the simple, clear, truth of Scripture. It confuses people, there’s no question about it."
There are two things to take away from that story. First is that people who have been isolated from all except the bible and read the bible diligently come away with a clear understanding of the pre-tribulation rapture and the importance of end time things. And second, that mucking it all up with stupidness puts a stumbling block in front of the lost and the weak.

Caleb Schumacher is one of the most deep and knowledgeable pastors I have ever read. He holds a Ph.D. in New Testament and an M.A. in Christian Apologetics. He says in his essay 'Why I believe in the Second Coming', "God brought me to Christ through the study of eschatology, or the study of "last" or "end" things."

Here is why, he says, prophecy is important:

--fulfilled prophecy demonstrates the omniscience of God,
--fulfilled prophecy demonstrates that the bible is a supernatural book,
--fulfilled prophecy demonstrates that Jesus is the Messiah and God,
--fulfilled prophecy instills confidence in the Christian as to future predictions that the bible makes.

FYI, 109 predictions concern the Messiah's 1st coming. Over 200 deal with His Second Coming!

Go on and read the rest of the piece by Schumacher below. I hope it will be encouraging. Stick with it end time proclaimers!! What I have found is rather than make me negative, the knowledge of His return and the wonder of His prophetic works in the world makes me love Him all the more. The more I love Him the more "positive" I become!


Pope Benedict's resignation: the fallout continues & Vatican is furious

It has been interesting to see the number of potential reasons surface for Pope Benedict 's resignation.

Did the pope resign due to a Vatican gay sex scandal? USA Today reports, "The Italian media is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI resigned after receiving the results of an internal investigation, delivered in a 300-page, two-volume dossier, that laid bare a sordid tale of blackmail, corruption and gay sex at the Vatican. The respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Friday that the report stamped "Pontifical Secret," contained "an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish" inside the Holy See. The newspaper said the findings of the nine-month investigation, headed by Spanish cardinal, Julian Herranz, with the assistance of Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, former archbishop of Palermo, and Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko, was delivered to the pope on Dec. 17, 2012. "It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,'' the newspaper said."

No, no, of course there is not a gay lobby inside the Vatican, the Vatican asserts, denies, and in all ways refuses to discuss, said The Guardian

Was it because of illness? The Pope may be much sicker than we thought. Pope Benedict had a pacemaker. The news of its existence shocked the world. In another shocker, the Pope apparently hit his head hard enough to break the skin, and has had a few resulting issues since then. But the Vatican predictably denies that it led to his retirement.

Or how about a good old money laundering scandal? The Times Union reports, "the Vatican has been accused for decades of secrecy in its financial dealings. The most famous was the Banco Ambrosiano scandal in the 1980s, in which the Vatican's private bank — formally known as the "Institute for Works of Religion" — was implicated in money-laundering for the Sicilian Mafia. Since 2010, the Vatican bank has once again been caught up in a series of financial scandals, including $29 million being seized by Italian authorities and being placed on the U.S. State Department's list of countries that are home to money laundering. Even J.P. Morgan closed one of the bank's accounts this past year when the Vatican could not provide information about the large sums of money moving in and out of its account. In an attempt to clean up its finances in order to bring them in line with European standards and to get ahead of any future scandals, the Vatican has hired outside advisers to address their adherence to financial regulations. However, in a series of released documents now known as "VatiLeaks," it was exposed that elements within the Vatican have continued to try to sidestep financial money laundering regulations that might threaten its banking operations."

The Vatican is situated in Vatican City, a sovereign nation located in Rome, Italy. It is "a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome. It has an area of approximately 110 acres, and a population of just over 800. This makes Vatican City the smallest independent state in the world by both area and population."

You must understand that the pope is an absolute monarch. He is elected by the Cardinals, but once elected, he assumes absolute power for life. The only other absolute monarchies in the world today are Swaziland, Brunei, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which is a federation of absolute monarchies.

The Pope is the only absolute monarch in Europe.

The Vatican is increasingly furious that the world's attention is turning from the papal resignation to what caused the resignation- in other words, digging up the scandal.

Vatican denies swirling rumors as pope prepares to step down
"The Vatican sought Saturday to tamp down rumors involving sex, money and gay priests that have been swirling in the Italian media and have been linked by some to Pope Benedict XVI's decision to resign. The strongly-worded denial came on the eve of the pope's last Angelus blessing, expected to draw huge crowds of the faithful, before he stands down on Thursday. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said it was "deplorable" that as the time for the Roman Catholic cardinals to elect a new pope approaches, a rash of "often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" has appeared."

"Last May Pope Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with stealing leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting."

St. Peter's Basilica
I want us all to understand something. The rumors of infighting, backbiting, betrayals and political jockeying are not unexpected. The cardinals who live in the micro-nation of Vatican city are living in a heated pot of intrigue, personal selfishness and depraved sin all within 110 little acres. How do I know this? They are not saved.

Picture "Survivor" on steroids, because the prize is an absolute monarchy in the wealthiest place on the planet. It is the world's top prize. And competing for it are men who are whitewashed tombs, having an appearance of godliness but denying its power. (Matthew 23:28). If one is not under the grace of Jesus, one is under the control of satan, and these men are under satan's influence. Of course there is a scandal, and of course men are willing to go to any length to obtain the prize. To think otherwise is to fail to understand sin.

The only higher prize than to be pope (in terms of unaccountability in power and living in immeasurable wealth) is the coming antichrist. The antichrist will have control of the entire planet, not just 1/7th of it.

One extreme of current speculation is that the pope would be a likely candidate for false prophet to the antichrist. (The Pope already IS a false prophet, but may morph into THE false prophet).  The other extreme is that perhaps Catholicism all but disappears as the elements of Islam and Gnosticism and paganism dilute it so much into the one world religion (Revelation 17) that it is essentially gone. Who knows?

Pope Pius XII, in the papal mantum and wearing
the 1877 Papal Tiara, is carried through St. Peter's Basilica
on a sedia gestatoria.
Whatever happens in the next three weeks will be interesting. Will the new pope be installed by Easter? He would have to be elected by March 17 and installed that day at latest, because installations only can occur on Sundays, and Holy week begins March 24 and concludes on Easter, March 31. On the other hand, the Lord may have in mind that there be no new pope, or something equally amazing. His works are mysterious and wondrous. I do not know what He will do in this situation but I know that it will be amazing, and perfect.

Keep watching this most interesting development.

Sequestration, world commerce, and the coming antichrist economy

If there is such a thing as a 'reverse miracle' the global economy these last five years is it. In 2008 when the global crash startled the world and the housing bubble imploded, and jobs went away, it seemed that the house of cards that is world finance and commerce would collapse. It didn't. And all these five years, it hasn't. This defies logic, tradition, and all economic principles. (Above, A crowd gathers at New York City's Federal Hall opposite the Stock Exchange at the news of the crash - 1929 AP / Wide World Photos Time - 75 Years)

Or does it?

What has to change is our perception of what an economic crash is. If you live in America like I do, we have a notion that economic crashes suddenly occur, like the October Wall Street stock market crash of 1929. We often think of the crash happening in October and then immediately of the lines outside banks to get disappearing deposits and right away the Okies traveling away from the Dust bowl states. But it all unfolded much more slowly than that.

Oct 10, 2008, Source
But what most people do not know is that the 1929 crash was similar to the 2008 crash in that it was but one marker of an ailing, upside down economy. Bankers and Brokers didn't realize the depth and extent of the crash and that it would spark a 10-year Depression.

Time Magazine reported on the 1929 October crash, "As the story goes, the opening bell was never heard on Black Tuesday because the shouts of "Sell! Sell! Sell!" drowned it out. In the first thirty minutes, 3 million shares changed hands and with them, another $2 million disappeared into thin air. Phone lines clogged. The volume of Western Union telegrams traveling across the country tripled. The ticker tape ran so far behind the actual transactions that some traders simply let it run out. Trades happened so quickly that although people knew they were losing money, they didn't know how much."

And that is what we remember of the most devastating and terror-ridden moment in America's financial and economic history. But the crash continued-

As a matter of fact, the Market recovered on October 30, regaining 12% of losses. Time reported, "In total, $25 billion — some $319 billion in today's dollars — was lost in the 1929 crash. Stocks continued to fall over subsequent weeks, finally bottoming out on November 13, 1929. The market recovered for a few months and then slid again, gliding swiftly and steadily with the rest of the country into the Great Depression. Companies incurred huge layoffs, unemployment skyrocketed, wages plummeted and the economy went into a tailspin. While World War II helped pull the country out of a Depression by the early 1940s, the stock market wouldn't recover to its pre-crash numbers until 1954."

After the crash of 1929 it wasn't until 1932-1933 that the economy hit rock bottom. This timeline has the facts about why 1933 was the worst year of the Depression for the common man. So you can easily see that the crash was not a one-day event but took years to unfold, rebound and for the stock market to recover..

Like 1929, the 2008 economic crash followed a speculative boom. The era was so speculative and the attitude was so optimistic, that the entire era is called The Roaring Twenties. The era was dynamic, vibrant, creative, and was undergirded by sustained economic prosperity. This attitude was not prevalent just in America, but also Europe. France's name for the era was The Crazy Years. Britain called it the Golden Twenties.

The president of the Chase National Bank said at the time of the crash, "We are reaping the natural fruit of the orgy of speculation in which millions of people have indulged. It was inevitable, because of the tremendous increase in the number of stockholders in recent years, that the number of sellers would be greater than ever when the boom ended and selling took the place of buying." (Wikipedia)

Economist Albert Scardino said in 1987, "The panic of October 1929 has come to serve as a symbol of the economic contraction that gripped the world during the next decade."

As an aside, when economists say "contraction", I think of the contraction of a woman in labor. (Matthew 24:8).

The same conditions that sparked the crash of 1929, wild speculation and bloated spending, sparked the 2008 crash, but like the unfolding Depression of the 1930, it unfolds slowly. The crash is actually a long period of decline, not a one-day event. We have been 'crashing' since October 2008. We are in a crash right now. Let's take a look at the present-day facts.

Wal-Mart is undergoing a silent sales disaster. The Daily Beast reports, Wal-Mart customers have disappeared, will they take the economy with them?
"Where are all the customers?" asks an internal Walmart email published by Bloomberg last week. "And where's their money?" Another email states "In case you haven't seen a sales report these days, February [month to date] sales are a total disaster . . . the worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company." Brad Plumer notes that Walmart sales are often a bellwether for the rest of the economy. Should we be freaking out?"

Yes. Yes we should.

Why? The higher payroll tax kicked in this January. Higher payroll taxes mean less money for consumers and less money for consumers means, well, they spend less. The Economic Collapse blog says "The Big Dogs of Wall Street are starting to get very nervous".

And according to a CNN article, corporate insiders are now selling nine times more of their own shares than they are buying...  These corporate insiders have one word for investors: sell. Insiders were nine times more likely to sell shares of their companies than buy new ones last week, according to the Vickers Weekly Insider report by Argus Research. We wonder why corporate bigwigs like Google's Eric Schmidt is selling nearly half of his stock in the company.

The crashing economy is seen not just in consumer spending, stocks, and retail, but in government. The United States has not passed a budget in years. Heritage reports, "The House and Senate have not agreed on a budget resolution since April 29, 2009 (though the House has passed budgets the past two years). If current trends continue, the end of the 113th Congress will mark five straight years without a congressional budget. ... The temporary tax policies of recent years, the debt ceiling debacle of 2011, and the short-term “solution” of last year’s fiscal cliff have only worsened the budgetary dysfunction. Congress now faces across-the-board spending cuts (sequestration) on March 1, another deadline March 27 for funding government operations, and another debt ceiling vote in May. Halfway into the fiscal year, major budget decisions remain in flux. These incoherent practices have yielded no entitlement reform—indispensable for getting deficits and debt under control—but they have produced a $618 billion tax increase."

Caption- Some of the 6,000 men who queued up for jobs offered by a New York employment agency - 1930 (135 found jobs; by 1932 almost 30% of the American workforce was unemployed) Corbis / Bettmann - UPI

Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
"The Pentagon notified Congress on Wednesday it will be furloughing its civilian workforce of 800,000 employees if sequestration goes into effect March 1."

Sequestration defined: "Under sequestration, an amount of money equal to the difference between the cap set in the Budget Resolution and the amount actually appropriated is "sequestered" by the Treasury and not handed over to the agencies to which it was originally appropriated by Congress."

As we already know, there is trouble everywhere. The UK lost its credit rating yesterday. Forbes reported,  "Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the sovereign credit rating of the U.K. on Friday, stripping its coveted triple-A status one notch to AA1. The agency blamed U.K.’s rising debt levels, adding that there was “a deterioration in the shock-absorption capacity of the government’s balance sheet, which is unlikely to reverse before 2016.” Forbes asks the $64 question, 'Is the US next?'

Imagine what the loss of pay for 800,000 workers would do to our economy, already staggered by loss of jobs and cash flow. In other words, under sequestration, all money flow comes to a forced halt and during a depression voluntary money flow comes to a halt. Like retail spending--

CBS News reports, "The entire economy is headed for trouble in just eight days -- when massive across-the-board cuts in the federal budget are scheduled to kick in automatically. The cuts were designed to be so deep and harmful, that they would force the president and Congress to find a better way. But they haven't. Just for example, there would be $46 billion cut from the Defense Department and benefit cuts for 4.7 million long-term unemployed."

Retail is failing, and this is a marker of the crash.

Best Buy is forecasting 200 to 250 store closings
Sears Holding Corp. forecast store closings: Kmart 175 to 225, Sears 100 to 125
J.C. Penney, forecast store closings: 300 to 350
Office Depot, forecast store closings: 125 to 150
Barnes & Noble, forecast store closings: 190 to 240, per company comments
Gamestop, forecast store closings: 500 to 600
OfficeMax, forecast store closings: 150 to 175
RadioShack, forecast store closings: 450 to 550

In addition to closings, we hear about layoffs.

Blockbuster recently announced that this year they will be closing about 300 stores and eliminating about 3,000 jobs. Toy manufacturer Hasbro recently announced that they will be shrinking their workforce by about 10 percent. And we already heard about the Walmart email that said February was the worst month, ever.

So what does this all mean? It means God is doing a work! Did you know that the bible has a lot to say about finances and economy? There are verses which instruct us on personal level and on a national level. For example, Proverbs 22:16 says,

"Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty." The NLT makes it even clearer. "A person who gets ahead by oppressing the poor or by showering gifts on the rich will end in poverty." Tell that to the Occupy Wall Street people...

But now I am going to contradict myself. The Great Depression seems to have begun in October 1929 and the stock market did not recover until 1954. These things take a long time to set up, to occur and to recover from. They are long cycles. (Kondratiev wave). The one exception to the slow cycle of up and  down will be the Tribulation. Why? It will be a time like no other before or since, (Matthew 24:21).

In my opinion, the fact that the global merging of all national economies into one economic force (Revelation 13:16-17) under the management of one man, (Revelation 13:5-8), bespeaks that something massive has to have happened for the people to accept such dramatic moves. And it has to happen fast, because the Tribulation is only 7 years, and since Revelation is mostly chronological, by the time Revelation 13 occurs, it is midway through the entire period. We read in Revelation 13:5 that authority is given to the antichrist for 42 months (3.5 years).

There will be an economy in the Tribulation, it will be vigorous and will trade in all the usual things like flour (Revelation 6:6) but there will also be a trade for luxuries (Revelation 18). There will be people rich enough to buy these luxuries. So much so, that the merchants selling them become incredibly wealthy.

WHAT will have happened that will reduce the world into an entire economic and financial restructuring within just 3.5 years? (first half of the Tribulation). Something terrible and dramatic. It only takes three and a half years for the global economy to be turned completely upside down, restructured and by the time the antichrist comes along, for the world to accept his proposal of a one world government- and enact it!

Of course, the beginning of the events that would cause the acceptance of the one world economy may begin prior to the Tribulation, but given the last five years of slow decline (despite warnings of the 'fiscal cliff) I don't think so. Personally I believe it will be one or more of the following that will cause the final and/or sudden economic collapse:

1. The rapture. If enough consumers who hold withhold their money from retail circulation could cause panic in Walmart execs during just one month, what will the sudden removal of all the Christians' economic input cause the world economy?

2. War. And not just any war- but nuclear war and/or EMP. The coming wars of Isaiah 17, Isaiah 19, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 may not occur just in the Tribulation. There is nothing about the prophecy that says these wars have to happen during the 7 years of judgment (except by the very end of the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog/Magog war the Tribulation will have begun, because the Jews are brought back to covenant with God, (Ez 39:7) and the world knows that God is judging the world. (Ez 38:16, 23). Those prophesied wars contain intimations that they will be nuclear. I wrote about that last week. With war often comes...disease.

3. Disease outbreak. The 1918-20 Spanish flu pandemic was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic which infected 500 million people across the world, including remote Pacific islands and the Arctic, and killed 50 to 100 million of them—1 to 3 percent of the world's population at the time—making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. (source). Most of the deaths in the US took place within only 9 months. The sudden removal of human capital, either through death or illness from which they later recovered, was dramatic. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that a pandemic similar to the 1918 flu would decrease annual U.S. GDP levels by 5% if it happened in today's economy. There were mandatory closings of schools, churches, theatres, and places of public assemblage toward the end of the year in 1918. The entertainment industry was hit hardest.

For example, legal gambling in the US is a 90Billion dollar industry. Factor in other entertainment such as cable, internet, film, music etc and you have a trillion dollar industry. An outbreak of disease could put a severe dent on all that, just as it did in 1918. As a matter of fact, officials are worried about an outbreak of tuberculosis in LA. And yesterday it's reported that a Long Island teen died of a mysterious illness while on a school trip to Disneyland

4. All of the above. All these events could happen simultaneously or nearly so. It is not possible to go through the removal of millions in the blink of an eye, and/or war, and/or pestilential outbreak on a global scale and not have other segments of the global infrastructure such as economy be impacted too.

5. Other. God is creative. I do not know what else He may have planned that will cause the world's economy to fail or at least come to the point where the population of the planet accepts an entire restructuring. Who expected the 9.0 quake and tsunami in Japan? Who expected the Pope to resign? Who thought Obama would be re-elected for another 4 years? Who thought that a massive sinkhole in Bayou Corne or a BP multi-month oil breach would occur?

We Christians can look forward to the rapture and will escape all these things. We see the rapture in Revelation 4. The Church is seen in Heaven in Revelation 5. The wrath begins in Revelation 6. No matter how close the wrath is, the rapture is closer!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A note about the brethren who live under the shadow of the Catholic Church

Yesterday, Pastor John MacArthur posted an introduction to a new blog series. It is called, A Timely Critique of the Catholic Church.

He wrote,
"Last week Pope Benedict XVI made the historic and unexpected announcement that he will soon retire ... In the coming days and weeks, you’re likely to find yourself in a variety of conversations about the Catholic Church with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors—each one an opportunity to shed biblical light on a topic that everyone will be talking about. And when the Lord brings those opportunities, I want you to be able to speak with clarity and authority regarding the truth of God’s Word and the corrupt idolatry of Roman Catholicism."
In the first installation of the series, Pastor MacArthur pulled no punches. He said, "The fact is, the most formidable, relentless, and deceptive enemy in Satan’s long war on the truth has been Roman Catholicism. It’s an apostate, corrupt, heretical, false Christianity—a thinly veiled fa├žade for the kingdom of Satan."

His blog allows comments and I read them all last night. I came to one comment in particular, and I was just stricken to the heart. I admit, I did get emotional over it, and I prayed. The comment may not strike you the same way as it did me, but I post it here for you to consider. It is from a brother in South America. He opens with blessing Pastor MacArthur:
God bless you. Thank you for this resource. I live in Colombia where Catholicism has a huge influence and evangelical Christians are seen as an apostate sect.

I'm a journalist with a tv show in a secular channel, where I dedicate many programs to spread the truth and present many Christian testimonies. In my Facebook page I've had strong debates against many Catholic positions in many topics. The latest was the spiritual significance of the carnival (Mardi Gras) in our city, Barranquilla. It is the world's second largest after Rio de Janeiro, according to Wikipedia. I've been alerting everyone about this, being the son of a carnival queen and the father of a carnival queen, member of the board of the entity which runs the carnival. Opposing to that is the Catholic Church. It's archbishop and priests give their blessing to this pagan and satanic festival. It's outrageous!

I can't say enough about the spiritual damage the Catholic Church does in countries like mine where their influence is enormous.

Resources like this one are very helpful for people like me that like to preach the Truth not being a pastor or teacher of the Word of God, and only a disciple of Grace to You and John MacArthur's teachings and writings. I listen to you daily on the web through KDRY of San Antonio, have your podcasts and read your books.

I just dream that we could have a Grace to You church in my town, dedicated to the teaching of the Truth of Scriptures. That would be a gigantic blessing because we have a lot of Christian Churches of all sizes, but many don't preach the Gospel as it is and others are preaching the prosperity gospel.

So, there is a ton of work to be done and I just try to contribute from my position as a public figure in journalism to spread the true Gospel of Jesus.

Thank you for all you do and I must say you have been a blessing to me and my understanding of God's Word "one verse at a time"!

May God bless you and your marvelous ministry.

Manuel De la Rosa; Barranquilla, Colombia, South America
There are two missionaries I know in Guatemala right now. They came and spoke to our church about the deep spiritual darkness of Central and South America, directly due to the Catholic Church. Their talk touched me deeply, and aroused a fervent inclination to oppose the Catholic Church where and when I can.

Mr De la Rosa of Barranquilla, Colombia's comment was deeply humbling. As I prayed, I envisioned the darkness of so many millions in that place; the delusion of so many Catholic congregants; the wails and gnashing of teeth on the Day of the LORD when they discover to their eternal regret of the horrific ramifications of their spiritual choice.

But more than that, the comment touched in me a joy for our brethren who labor in obscurity in the dark places. In addition to spiritually cold and dead locations like Europe, and dangerous places like in the Muslim nations, the task is monumental for our Christian brethren in South America, as Mr De la Rosa indicated.

It is hard for an 'emotion' or an 'attitude' to bleed through the monitor of the laptop, but this one did. His joy in persevering, his graciousness in accepting the sphere in which the Lord has placed him, and the heartfelt love for Jesus that is obvious from this man all touched me deeply.

Please remember to pray for our brethren who do not enjoy the liberties as we have in the US, and where spiritual warfare is more real and present and in greater force. And please, if you would be so kind, think of Mr De la Rosa, and the people like him, who humbly preach the truth in obscurity in a mature and gracious way.

It was a joy to read a fellow believer's struggle and to see his servant's heart. Though the task is daunting, we are one united body, spread all over the world, to be the Light for Jesus and to give Him glory. And...there are brethren who toil tirelessly, UNdaunted by the task, because they know who their Master is.

Pray for each other.

"Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints," (Ephesians 6:18)

"First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people," (1 Timothy 2:1)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Syria conflict: Many dead in huge Damascus bombing

BBC News reported yesterday,
"A huge car bomb in the Syrian capital Damascus has sent smoke billowing across the capital's skyline.

"Syrian media and pan-Arab satellite station al-Jazeera have spoken of deaths and injuries resulting from the blast, which state media have blamed on "terrorists". Ambulances rushed to the scene near headquarters of the ruling Baath party. The violence comes as Russia and the Arab League say they want to broker direct government-opposition talks. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the violence as "a road to nowhere".

"The opposition Syrian National Coalition is holding a two-day meeting in Egypt to discuss a framework for a possible solution to the Syrian war. Some 70,000 people have died since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, the UN says."

Other estimates have the casualties over the two-year civil war period as high as 90,000.

This photo from Syrian State Media Sana of the bombing shows a tragic story.

When Jesus said in Matthew 24:6 that as a sign of the end there would "be wars and rumors of wars," that was a statement meant for the Tribulation. The discourse Jesus gave in Matthew 24 was regarding the 7-year Tribulation AKA Time of Jacob's Trouble. The Tribulation as prophesied in Revelation 6-20 has not begun.

However, it is interesting to note the severity of the current situation both in the Middle East and in the Asian spheres (North Korea vs. South Korea, & China vs. Japan). It is even more interesting to note this in light of the fact that those two regions are specifically mentioned as being participants in the global end time Tribulation wars. (Isaiah 17, Isaiah 19, Psalm 83, Ezekiel 38-39, Rev 16:12, etc)

In Israel, war has taken on a heightened priority. Iran is nearing the red line in which there would be no turning back if they get close enough to developing a nuclear bomb. The red line refers to the moment of no return that Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel would not let Iran cross, when he spoke to the UN in September 2012. He said at that time that Iran would be close to finishing a bomb in the spring.

Israel-watcher Joel C. Rosenberg has more.
Netanyahu warns: IAEA centrifuge report shows Iran nearing nuclear “red line.”
“Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, a UN nuclear report said on Thursday,” according to Reuters and the Jerusalem Post. “In response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Iran is closer today than ever before to obtaining the necessary enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb. ... Netanyahu termed the report “very grave,” and said it proved that Iran is moving swiftly toward the red line he set out at the UN in September. He said during that address that Iran must be stopped before it crosses that line, something he said at the time could happen as early as the spring."
Several weeks ago, North Korea released a video that seemed to show an American city, likely New York, in flames due to a NK nuke. They have released another video, this time, depicting Obama on fire from flames in a nuclear blast. It is a crude response to the world condemnation for North Korea's latest nuclear test. It does, however, remind us that our most potent enemy perhaps is North Korea.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about Iran's boast that claimed they were already nuclear. In that piece I said that in my opinion nuclear exchanges will take place during the Tribulation, and showed how several verses from the bible seemed to show us either death from a nuclear war and cleanup from a nuclear war. In the same piece I'd linked to above, Joel Rosenberg write about Iran, NK, Israel, US and nukes, stating,
"This is particularly troublesome in the light of the fact North Korea recently conducted another nuclear warhead test. Guess who was present at the test? The head of Iran’s nuclear program. Did Pyongyang just help Iran test an A-bomb? As I’ve written on my blog, there is growing evidence that Iran and North Korea are working hand in glove in developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Netanyahu warns that the North Korea nuclear bomb test proves that economic sanctions are not enough to stop Iran. ..."
As I drove to work today, the car ahead of me was decorated at the back bumper with stickers. One said, "If you've seen one nuclear war, you've seen them all."

That sentiment, as darkly humorous as it is, will soon be all too true.