Friday, May 31, 2013

Machias River, and Lubec, Maine

Machias river and lupines. Something pretty for you today.


Globe Cove, Lubec Maine


Focus on the Family/CitizenLink- What Once Was Ordinary" Student prayer at Graduation

Beautiful!



Article here for those who can't watch video

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

We are to be holy because He is holy

Last night at Wednesday night bible study, we were approaching 1 Peter 1:10 toward the end of the lesson: ("Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully")

and the next section in 1 Peter 1 is titled "Called to be holy." In vv. 10, & 13-21, it reminded me of the study I'm personally doing in Zechariah. This blog entry is about sharing my thoughts of the parallels between 1 Peter 1:1-21 and Zechariah 3. Chapter 3 in Zechariah is a tremendous passage in a tremendous book that really stopped me in my tracks this week.

Perhaps the reference Peter makes to the prophets of old prophesying about the grace of God can be seen in view here in Zech 3:1-5. Let's see.

"Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.” 5Then I said, “Put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood by."

My understanding is that Joshua the High Priest here is a picture of all Israel, called to be a holy (priestly) people before God and a light to the Gentiles. Now, I don't want to spiritualize this passage or make it be about the Church. In this vision, God was giving direct comfort and an explicit message to Israel, but there is a wider view that I think I as a NT believer after the cross can safely take in seeing the character of satan in this scenes and the character of God, because those things don't change.

In looking at the nature of the uncleanliness of Israel in their sin ... the words used here refer to their uncleanness as human waste of the filthiest kind. That is what "Joshua"/Israel was covered in. That is how God looks at sin. This is always instructive to see. Sin is not just ugly, but it is the worst sort of pollution.

The thought of standing before God in my own waste is a jarring enough picture. Satan is right to accuse Israel, they were filthy. They were idolatrous, blasphemous, and sinning upon sin. How does that old adage go? "when satan talks to us he lies but when he talks to God he tells the truth". He is truthfully pointing out the sin staining Israel.

Satan accuses us New Testament believers also, including me. (Rev 12:10). I can imagine him standing next to Jesus saying, "Did you see that? She is filthy with sin!" Ow!

But the wondrous part is when I read in Zechariah that the LORD rebuked satan for pointing it out and making the accusation!! He reminds satan that He has pulled Israel out of the fire (and us too, after the cross, 1 John 2:1). How great is His mercy that despite our filth, He loves His chosen people (and by extension, us)! It is a tremendous, tremendous scene.

And then His mercy deepens by His decision to place clean garments on Israel. They truly are a people close to His heart aren't they! And His Holy, Merciful nature is that He also put clean garments on us when we become justified. Perhaps I can say that as Peter says in verse 7, the faith that is "more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire" is this garment of salvation! The clean garments he places on us, and it is an amazing thing. Faith in His word He'll cleanse us of our sin and have it remain so, forever, despite satan's accusations.

As Zechariah closes out the section saying that the LORD ordered that a clean turban be put on the High Priest's head, we read in Exodus 28:36 that the turban had an engraving on it that said "HOLY TO THE LORD".

Replacing Israel's filth stained garments, and after the cross, replacing the Church age believer's filth stained garments, is to me the most incredible act in the entire universe. Is this what the angels think also, and is why they long to look into such things? (1 Peter 1:12). I dare to speculate perhaps so.

As we read further in the 1 Peter 1 chapter, the upcoming verses 13-15, the call of Peter for us to be holy is contrasted by this scene in Zechariah of the grace and mercy of God, who cleans His children of our own excrement, calls us holy, and gives us the garments to prove it so. Though the scene in Zechariah is discrete to Israel, I can use that picture to extend it through the cross to understand that He rebukes my accuser, cleans me of my filth, places on my head His name, and ordains over me the call to be Holy. We are to be holy because He is holy (Lev 11:44).

Understanding where I came from and what God has done for me through Jesus, and seeing the scene described so graphically in Zechariah helps me want to adhere fervently to the call of Peter to be holy for His sake- and not mine.

God is so great!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The photo that was used to "prove" right wing bias AND left wing bias, and other news

Here is a news roundup of articles I believe are of interest culturally and prophetically.

South Portland doctor stops accepting insurance, posts prices online
"The family physician stopped accepting all forms of health insurance. In early 2013, Ciampi sent a letter to his patients informing them that he would no longer accept any kind of health coverage, both private and government-sponsored. Given that he was now asking patients to pay for his services out of pocket, he posted his prices on the practice’s website. ... But the decision to do away with insurance allows Ciampi to practice medicine the way he sees fit, he said. Insurance companies no longer dictate how much he charges. He can offer discounts to patients struggling with their medical bills. He can make house calls."

“I’m freed up to do what I think is right for the patients,” Ciampi said. “If I’m providing them a service that they value, they can pay me, and we cut the insurance out as the middleman and cut out a lot of the expense.” Ciampi expects more doctors will follow suit. Some may choose to run “concierge practices” in which patients pay to keep a doctor on retainer, he said."

It seems to me that the unintended consequences of Obamacare may indeed re-define the practice of medicine as we have known it in this generation. Those options listed in just this one excerpt are radical- but I like the notion of house calls and a concierge practice. Also, any way we can cut out the government middleman seems good to me.

Israel's History in Pictures
"A 110-year-old trove of pictures taken by the Christian photographers of the American Colony in Jerusalem provides dramatic proof of thriving Jewish communities in what was then called Palestine, the name given to the area by the Romans hundreds of years before Islam came into existence and Arab hordes attacked the land to spread the word of Muhammed by the sword. Hundreds of pictures show the ancient Jewish community of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Jewish pioneers and builders of new towns and settlements in the Galilee and along the Mediterranean coastline. The American Colony photographers recorded Jewish holy sites, holiday scenes and customs..."

The link to the site where the photos are is IsraelDailyPicture.com Like this one-"Plowing with a cow and a camel (circa 1900)"

Photos can not only be proof, as they are above, but in these days they can be used for manipulation of the truth. This is an interesting story from Israel-

The infamous Haaretz photo that was never actually printed in Haaretz
A photograph cropped in two ways, captioned with two newspapers, Haaretz and Makor Rishon, purported to show left-wing vs. right-wing photojournalism. The only problem: Neither newspaper actually published the photo in question.
For some weeks, upset subscribers and other Haaretz readers have been asking the newspaper for clarifications about the “cropped photograph” being shared on social networks with the caption, “Who hit whom?” Everyone was convinced that Haaretz ran that photograph recently and that someone caught us red-handed."

The investigation into this libel found that the "accusatory" photo was actually an Associated Press picture from 7 years ago. The internet, with all its instant social media, has been a boon to humankind, but also a cautionary tale. It is increasingly used for manipulation hoaxes and outright libel. In the Tribulation, media will be used to allow peoples from every tongue, tribe, and nation to gaze at the dead bodies of the two witnesses on the street of Jerusalem. How will manipulations such as the photo cropping be extended to its worst facets in the Tribulation? undoubtedly to promote the antichrist and all his 'good works' such as forming a peace treaty, his "miraculous" signs and wonders, his "resurrection" from the wound he is prophesied to receive, and to make the image of the beast come alive. (Daniel 9:27, Revelation 13:3, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, Revelation 13:5)

The US is neglecting maritime Asia just as tensions are at highest level. See this story from The Diplomat. Remember that in end time prophecy fulfillment there will be a large army marching from Asia. (Revelation 9:13-16). Asia will figure prominently in the final wars.

Deleterious Neglect: Will the U.S. Navy Surrender Maritime Asia?
"The Chinese navy's surface forces are on the march. Destroyers, frigates, corvettes, fast-attack craft, and, most recently, the newly commissioned aircraft carrier comprise the surface fleet. Over the past two decades, the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) has put to sea four Sovremenny-class guided-missile destroyers procured from Russia, along with ten new classes of indigenously built destroyers and frigates. Some of the latter ship types have entered serial production, adding mass to the fleet. This is an impressive feat by any standard. The PLA Navy's metamorphosis from a coastal defense force into a modern naval service has riveted the attention of the U.S. defense community. In 2009 the Office of Naval Intelligence — a body not known for hyperbole — described the advances of China's surface fleet as "remarkable."

Steve Herman is a reporter for Voice of America in Asia. He tweeted this week, "#ROK foreign minister warns #jejuforum that growing historical, territorial & maritime tension in E. Asia could lead to "physical conflict."

Island dispute continues to test Japan-China-US relations
"Three Chinese maritime surveillance ships entered Japanese-claimed waters near the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea on Sunday. These incursions are becoming commonplace and they test not just China's relationship with Japan but also the long-running security relationship Japan has with the US.  At what point would the US step in to help its ally?"

On a personal note, today is the last day of school for teachers. Starting tomorrow I have all the time in the world to read, study, and write. Happy summer!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Jerusalem! Part 3, Its Wondrous Spiritual Future

Jerusalem: Introduction
Jerusalem Part 1: The Land
Jerusalem Part 2: The Nation

In this third and final part of looking at the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel, we'll look at the spiritual aspect of this holy city. We looked at the land itself in part 1, the geography, animals, and plants. In Part 2 we looked at the political entity that is today's Israel. Now let's see what God has in store for the city where He placed His name!

I had said in the introduction that in listening to John MacArthur preach through Zechariah, I have been encouraged, astounded, and blessed as the meaning of that tremendous book opens my mind in awe of God. In one of the sermons he preached about "The Future Glory of Jerusalem", and it swept me away so completely that I decided to do this three-part series. Here is a small snippet of what he preached. I encourage you to listen in its entirety
Let me give you a little fast history, hang on. It first appears in Scripture as the city of Salem, ruled by a man by the name of Melchizedek. In Genesis 14 he is called the king of Salem. Most people assume the name Jerusalem or Salem comes from the Hebrew shalom, which means peace. Twenty centuries before Christ it existed as the city of Salem. The next time we see Jerusalem in history it appears as a Canaanite stronghold with an allegiance to Egypt. Soon after that we see it in reference to Joshua. This is 600 years after the Genesis record or 1400 years before Christ. Joshua in Chapter 10 sets his sights on this city as he conquers Canaan. And in Chapter 15 Joshua says that this territory, including this city, has been given to Judah when the land was divided among the tribes. But even though it was 1400 years before Christ that the city was said to belong to Judah, it wasn't until 1003 B.C. that David stormed Jerusalem, which was then a fortress of the people called the Jebusites and according to II Samuel 5, David took the city, which was later to bear the name the city of David. The city never really became much under David. It wasn't until David's brilliant son, Solomon, that Jerusalem reached its golden age.

And under Solomon the wall was extended, an incredible palace was built, an amazing and marvelous wonder of the world the temple was accomplished, and Jerusalem became something astonishing, something astounding. But after Solomon the ages that flowed on brought no comparable glory to Jerusalem and by 586 B.C. or about 400 years after Solomon, the city was a rubble, destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Nehemiah went back and rebuilt it but it remained rather insignificant from then on. Finally in 70 A.D. after the birth of Jesus Christ some 70 years the city was wiped out again and destroyed by the Roman army, as we saw last week. Jerusalem arose rather meekly from the ashes a little after 70 A.D., but by 132 A.D. whatever was left was crushed by the Emperor Hadrian from Rome. And until modern times even in our modern era Jerusalem has been kicked back and forth between the Turks and the Christian nations, the Moslems and the Christians kicking it back and forth.

And finally in our generation the marvelous rebirth of the state of Israel has occurred, a miracle of sociology, a miracle of the perpetuity of a race of human beings. I dare say nobody has ever met a Jebusite, a Hivite, a Amorite, a Moabite or a Edomite, or any other -ite around the Bible, but we sure have Israelites because God has preserved them in their own land. They've come back, but the hold it very tenuously don't they, surrounded by enemies. In fact surrounded on every side of them that is land they are locked in with literally bloodthirsty enemies and their hold is tenuous and they are always on the edge of war. Incredible as it is from Melchizedek in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis to 1977, the story of Jerusalem weaves its way through history. Cities come and go but not that city, it just continues. The city of Melchizedek, the city of David, the city of Christ, the city of Paul, the city of Salidine, the city of General Allenby, the city of Ben Guion, the city of Moshe Dayan, it is ever the perpetual city and someday it'll be the city of the seat of David, the Lord Jesus Christ yet again.

This final chapter hasn't been written. It's final hero hasn't arrived yet, but He will. For about 2,000 years now the Jews have been going to the Wailing Wall at one point or another to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, to plead with God to send a deliverer and break Gentile power.
When God decides the timing is right for that to happen it will be stupendous! During the Tribulation the glorious city will be trodden into the mud. It will become so perverse that it will be called metaphorical Sodom and Egypt. (Revelation 11:8). Both Sodom and Egypt were known for oppression, perversity, and sin. Armies will circle around the city (Luke 21:20). The Gentiles will trample it. (Luke 21:24). An earthquake will split it into three parts and 7,000 will die (Revelation 11:13, Revelation 16:19). Jerusalem is going to have a rough, rough time.

But we cannot leave it like that.

The Lord chose this city for His name. He endowed it with His presence. (Luke 2:9). He chose to be crucified there. And when he returns, it will be to JERUSALEM!!

"And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4)".

And He will change the topography of the area to raise up Jerusalem!

It shall come to pass in that day
That there will be no light;
The lights will diminish.
7 It shall be one day
Which is known to the Lord—
Neither day nor night.
But at evening time it shall happen
That it will be light.

8 And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea
And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
9 And the Lord shall be King over all the earth.
In that day it shall be—
“The Lord is one,”
And His name one.

10 All the land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be raised up and inhabited in her place from Benjamin’s Gate to the place of the First Gate and the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses." (Zechariah 14:6-10).

Ezekiel 47 parallels the scene. It is tremendous. Please go read it. It is too long to put here. But the Middletown Bible Church of Middletown CT has put up a page with a drawing in addition to a biblical essay about Jerusalem's final position. They write,
"In Zechariah 14:8 we learn that half of this river will empty into the Dead Sea and half of the river will empty into the Mediterranean Sea. This river is also mentioned in Psalm 46:4 (and notice the context in Psalm 46:9-10 which clearly speaks of the kingdom)."

Jerusalem! The LORD is there. (Ezekiel 48:35). How close is the time for Jerusalem to be inhabited safely (Zechariah 14:11) and the glorious city and temple to be glowing with the manifested presence of God who is Jesus in the flesh? I do not know, but when it happens, it will be mercy...He promises mercy...

"Therefore thus said the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, said the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth on Jerusalem. 17Cry yet, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem." (Zechariah 1:16-17)

IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT!!!!!!!!!!


Monday, May 27, 2013

Freak Cold in US, Coldest Summer in Spain

Here is a short weather roundup-

"We're now up to 34" of Snow on top of Whiteface Mountain what a Memorial Day" ... twitter, @SkiWhiteFace
Embedded image permalink


Northeast Frost, Freeze Concerns Tonight
"Since Memorial Day is typically deemed as the unofficial start to summer, many people of the Northeast may find it hard to believe that frost and freezing temperatures are a concern tonight."

Spain braces for 'coldest summer in 200 years'
If you've been looking forward to spending your Spanish summer sunning yourself by the pool, don’t pack away your winter clothes just yet. France’s main weather channel has announced that there is a 70 percent chance of this summer being cold and wet across Spain, France, Portugal, Germany and Austria. Cold maritime fronts and weak solar activity during the winter months have not only given us a chillier Spanish spring than normal, they’re also going to make the summer months unusually dreary and rainy. According to Meteo, June and July are only likely to have short periods of summer heat which will in turn bring heavy storms in August. September and October are likely to register higher average temperatures and less rain, the French weather agency announced on Monday. The year without summer, 1816, is not an old wives’ tale. Overcast skies and cold temperatures across the northern hemisphere led to severe crop failures and food shortages in France, England, Ireland and the US during the summer months of that year."
FYI,
"The Year Without a Summer (also known as the Poverty Year, The Summer that Never Was, Year There Was No Summer, and Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death) was 1816, in which severe summer climate abnormalities caused average global temperatures to decrease by 0.4–0.7 °C (0.7–1.3 °F), resulting in major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere. It is believed that the anomaly was caused by a combination of a historic low in solar activity with a volcanic winter event, the latter caused by a succession of major volcanic eruptions capped by the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), the largest known eruption in over 1,300 years, which occurred during the concluding decades of the Little Ice Age, potentially adding to the existing cooling that had been periodically ongoing since 1350 AD." (Wikipedia).

So the Year without a Summer was caused by volcanic ash in the atmosphere from an unusually large volcanic explosion. So what is the reason for this year's strange weather? It cannot be blamed on volcanoes.

But speaking of volcanoes, Chile's "Copahue Moved to Red Alert Status"
"It might be a holiday in many parts of the world, but Chile’s Copahue isn’t taking a day off. The Chilean Geological Survey (SERNAGEOMIN) and civil authority (ONEMI) have moved the volcano to red alert status, which means an eruption is imminent or in progress. So far, from the details I can find, it is the former — an eruption is likely in the works in the hours to days timescale. The latest update from the SERNAGEOMIN says that over 250 small earthquakes related to magma movement are being recorded per hour at Copahue (although so far continuous volcanic tremor — an almost sure sign of eruption — has not been recorded). No plume has been spotted in the last day in satellite imagery and only a modest, ~400 meter steam-and-ash plume was seen from ground observations. However, the citizens of Caviahue in Argentina, just across the border from Copahue, have reported explosions and incandescence from the volcano. The sense from these updates and the change in status is that the SERNAGEOMIN expects an explosive event, similar to what we saw in December 2012 from Copahue, in the very near future. Schools in towns near the volcano have closed due to the threat of an eruption."
Only the LORD knows what tomorrow brings. Whether it be snow, ash, or rapture, He is in control. I place my trust in Him, and continue to feel blessed to be watching His work at this amazing time in history.

We are slaves of Christ, and God owns our body

We are not just servants of Jesus, not just bond-servants, but slaves. Yes, we are co-heirs, friends, and sons, but we are His slaves. Let's focus on that relationship for a minute.

John MacArthur:
Being a slave of Christ may be the best way to define a Christian. We are, as believers, slaves of Christ. You would never suspect that, however, from the language of Christianity. In contemporary Christianity the language is anything but slave language. It is about freedom. It is about liberation. It is about health, wealth, prosperity, finding your own fulfillment, fulfilling your own dream, finding your own purpose. We often hear that God loves you unconditionally and wants you to be all you want to be. He wants to fulfill every ambition, every desire, every hope, every dream. In fact, there are books being written about dreams as if they are gifts from God which God then having given them is bound to fulfill. Personal fulfillment, personal liberation, personal satisfaction, all bound up in an old term in evangelical Christianity, a personal relationship. How many times have we heard that the gospel offers people a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?

What exactly does that mean? Satan has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and it’s not a very good one. Every living being has a personal relationship with the living God of one kind or another, leading to one end or another. ... But what exactly is our relationship to God? What is our relationship to Christ? How are we best to understand it? You do have a personal relationship to Jesus Christ, you are His slave. That’s putting it as simply as I can put it. ~Slaves for Christ
Few of us go so far as to re-align our thoughts with the fact that we are His slaves. Fewer of us would go even further to explore the full implications of that fact.

"But now, O you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 64:8)

"But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" (Romans 9:20)

"Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:16-18).

"Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin." (John 8:34)

God made us. He owns not just our heart, and our mind, but our body. Ask Isaiah.

"at that time the LORD spoke by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, “Go, and loose the sackcloth from your waist and take off your sandals from your feet,” and he did so, walking naked and barefoot. Then the LORD said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush, (Isaiah 20:2-3).

God saw fit to use Isaiah's body AS the message He wanted to send to the people. Isaiah obeyed. We read in verse 2 the LORD said, and in verse 3 cut to three years later, Isaiah did. Did the LORD say, if you don't mind...please... I know this is embarrassing, but..." No. The Lord who is the Potter said to the clay, 'I formed you and now I want the vessel that is your body to be a sign. Naked.' Isaiah surrendered to God, and when the call came to do this thing, he obeyed. What a marvelous lesson in being a slave to righteousness. How would you like to be a walking naked billboard from God to everyone in your town?

We are slaves. Ask Job. God used his body, too. Satan charged Job in the presence of God of worshiping God only because God had put a hedge around Job. God told satan that he was allowed to test Job but not to touch his body. (Job 1:6-12). Satan took Job's property and children.

However Job remained steadfast so satan asked God for further access. This time the LORD said satan could touch his body. (Job 2:5-7). Job's body broke out in loathsome sores from head to toe. In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:10).

God made us and will deal with us as He deems fit. Not just the mind, nor the heart, but the body. We are His slaves and He owns us. Ask Mary.

Luke 2:26-38 describes the scene where an obedient girl, a young virgin betrothed, was told that she will conceive a son by the Holy Spirit. In the day of Jesus and before, it was a mark of honor and duty for a woman to conceive a male child. The family must grow and the tribe must be maintained. It was a black mark on a woman not to have children, and worse, not to have boys, and the lack caused deep distress in the woman who was barren. (1 Samuel 1:10). Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:2; Manoah's wife, in Judges 13:2-3; Sarai, in Genesis 11:30; and Elizabeth in Luke 1:36 all were women in disgrace because of their barrenness, but received news of their forthcoming child gladly. Not so Mary. Her situation was not a social blessing but a social disgrace, because she was not married. Yet she said,

"I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." (Holman Standard Christian Luke 1:38). Though the word is translated servant or bondservant in most of the other translations, in Greek it is doulos, slave. Mary knew that if the LORD wanted to use her body to instill a child by the Spirit, He would, and she would obey, no matter the social cost. Even 33 years later, she was still haunted by the stigma of uncertainty of proper birth, when the townspeople charged Jesus and said, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him." Mary's son, not Joseph's son, the proper way to declare birth genealogy. Mary knew this and she said, 'I am His slave, let it be done to me.' O, that we all could obey so gracefully! What a lesson for us.

The three examples go from the Lord's use of our body from superficial to deep. Isaiah walked naked. Job was beset with sores on his skin. Mary was used all the way to the interior of her body- her womb. We are His clay.

Once you think about how the LORD chooses to use us, it becomes clear that we do not own our body at all. Look at the verses in where He gives a blessing:

"You shall serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from among you. None shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days." (Exodus 23:25-25)

Here the LORD shows that he controls the wombs of the women and the bodies of the tribe by declaring healthy child-bearing, no illnesses, and healthy living until the number of days is fulfilled.

Herod was struck with worms. (Acts 12:23)

In John 9:1-3, a man had been blind since birth. He spent all his days, decades perhaps, blind, until the moment that the Potter should deem it the time to release him from blindness. Why did God use the man's body this way?

"As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him."

We are slaves, through and through. Not just our mind and heart, but our body. We do not just 'serve' Him, but He bought us with His blood. Redeemed us, with His blood. Purchased us with His blood. (Revelation 5:9, Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 6:20). Slaves are bought, and we are.

He owns us and can do with us as He wills. May it be to our benefit and His glory that we accept this as Isaiah, Job, and Mary- in worshipful submission.

"I am the Lord's slave," said Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word."

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42: 3-6)

The Stranger of Gray, Maine

In Gray, Maine, a large town just north of Portland, there is a town cemetery. Amid all the graves marking the founders and farmers and sundry Yankees, lay a Confederate soldier. He died during the second fight at Bull Run, most likely. Along with him in the long-ago battle, historians think, also died a Union soldier from Gray named Lt. Charles H. Colley. Gray sent more men and boys to the Civil War, proportionately, than any other Maine town. Over 200 went to fight, and as happened with Lt. Colley, many did not return alive.

When the Colley family heard the news that their son had fallen, they awaited the coffin containing his body to be sent back home. When it arrived, longing for one last look, they opened it and sadly discovered that it was not their son, but the man who lay inside was dressed in a Confederate uniform. There had been a mix-up.

Even more sorrowful now, the family decided that with the cost the families must bear in transporting the body, and the length of time it takes to travel, they would not send the body back, but instead inter it in the Yankee village's cemetery.

They marked the grave thus: "Stranger. A soldier died in the late war, 1862. Erected by the Ladies of Gray."

The Colley family decided that their son was lying somewhere they knew not, and hoped that a southern mother wold take care of him just as they would do for the southern stranger now a permanent part of the northern town.

Each Memorial Day, the Ladies lay flowers by his grave, along with an American flag. Beginning in 1956, a confederate flag was erected at his grave. "They were sent here by A. MacGregor Ayer of Fairfax, Va., and Mabur Jones of Columbia, S.C. who read about the soldier stranger in a news dispatch last year." Each Memorial Day, the Stranger's grave receives as much careful attention as do the graves of the northern veterans.

The 15th Alabama Regiment Company G re-enactors are stationed in central Maine, and annually they arrive at Gray to perform honors for the fallen soldier at the Gray Memorial Day ceremony.

Jeanne Adams photo
Jeanne Adams photo

Elizabeth Prata photo
Source, screen grab from Summer Paradis video of Stranger
Bangor Daily News, May 3, 1977



I respect those who served. Thank you!

Another reason the rapture is pre-trib

I've written many times from a biblical standpoint that the rapture will happen before the Tribulation. Church Age believers living in this present Age of Grace will not go through the Tribulation. The Tribulation's purpose is for the salvation of Israel, not the refining of the Bride. (Jeremiah 30:7, Isaiah 45:17).

Here are some of the links of previous writings on this topic:

More on the rapture will be pre-tribulation, from John MacArthur

Why the rapture is biblically pre-tribulation.

Why pre-tribulation rapture is doctrinally correct

Thirty–Six Pre-Trib Rapture Texts

Pre-tribulation rapture in the Old Testament

More on why the rapture will happen pre-tribulation

The differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming

LOL, I think you can see that I am passionate about the topic. That is because it pains me to see people needlessly worry. It hurts to know people may be stocking up instead of looking up. It is all so unnecessary.

Anyway, here is another thought for you.

In the New Testament at the end of His time on earth, Jesus told the Church to go and make disciples. He charged the church with evangelizing the world.

"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”" (Matthew 28:18-20).

Originally, the Jews were supposed to be the evangelizing vehicle for His name. (Isaiah 42:6). However, they turned to idolatry, became insular, and so He cut them off for a while and selected a new people for His name who would be grafted into the original vine and be the light to the Gentiles. (Acts 13:47, Romans 11:11, Romans 11:24). This is the church age. The church is the vehicle He is currently using to bring salvation to the lost peoples.

During this Age, He has partially hardened the hearts of the Jews while He is building His church. He will continue to do this until the number He has ordained to complete the church has come in. (Romans 11:25). Then the rapture will happen.

But what about evangelizing, the Great Commission? Who brings the Light to the Gentiles, then? If the Tribulation is a return to working on His people the Jews, as it is, then His original commission also re-ignites. Who does Jesus tell to evangelize the world during the Tribulation? The Jews. 144,000 of them. (Revelation 7:4).

Why?

Because the church is gone. He is returning the original commission back to the tribes of Israel. They are his first fruits of which Zechariah prophesied. (Revelation 14:4, Zechariah 12:10). The Tribulation is about ISRAEL, in every respect. (Daniel 9:24-27).

If you read all of Romans 11 in context and go through Zechariah it will widen your perspective. God is always at work. It is amazing to read what He has done and what He plans to do, by reading both the New Testament and the Old. My voice isn't loud enough to proclaim all His goodness and wonders! But I will still try!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Thanks

Thank you to the men and women who served with honor. Since the Revolutionary War, you have set aside your life, and in some cases, given your life, to serve a greater cause with honor. The liberties I enjoy are attributable to you. Thank you.

Thank you to my grandfather, (front row, 2nd from right) who served in the the First World War in the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. This regiment was an infantry regiment of the line in the British Army, with a history going back to 1688. It saw service for three centuries, and during WWI, the regiment increased from five to nineteen battalions which served in France and Flanders, Mesopotamia and Palestine. The regiment lost approximately 6,000 dead in the four years of war.

Thank you to Americo V. Bernardoni, (Great Uncle) who served in WWII from enlistment date of June 1942 through to the end of the war, plus 6 months. He was a Private in the Branch Immaterial Warrant Officers, USA.

Thank you to John Prata, (father) who served in the US Navy in the 1950s. He graduated from Officers Candidate School in Newport RI and Athens Supply Corps school in Georgia. He served as Ship's Bursar, and in the theater of the Pacific at Bikini. He was on the ships that were testing Hydrogen bombs.


Thank you to Raymond Tortolani, (uncle) who also graduated from Newport's OCS and served in the US Navy.

Thank you to William Keogh, (uncle) who served in the United States Coast Guard.

Though these family members did not lose their life to war, (though many of my father's shipmates came down with various cancers due to the radiation fallout from the bombs), I thank you for serving our nation.

Sign of the Times (my personal amended version)



Original sign courtesy of Wikipedia commons

Sunday Martyr Moment: Mark and Peter

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.

Mark

Little is known about Mark except what is written in the New Testament about him. After Paul's mention of him in 2 Timothy 4:11, he disappears from view. Tradition says he was dragged to pieces when he spoke out against a solemn ceremony for their idol Serapis.
The martyrdom of Saint Mark.
(Musée Condé, Chantilly).

Peter

The only account we have of the martyrdom of Apostle Peter is from the early Christian writer Hegesippus. His account includes a miraculous appearance by Christ. When Peter was old (John 21:18), Nero planned to put him to death. When the disciples heard of this, they begged Peter to flee the city [said to be Rome], which he did. But when he got to the city gate, he saw Christ walking towards him. Peter fell to his knees and said "Lord, where are you going?" Christ answered, "I've come to be crucified again." By this, Peer understood it was his time to suffer the death of Jesus which would glorify God. (John 21:19). So he went back to the city. After being captured and taken to his place of martyrdom, he requested that he be crucified in an upside-down position because he did not consider himself worthy to be crucified in the same position as his Lord.

 Caravaggio: painting of the 
crucifixion of Apostle Peter

 Michaelangelo: fresco of the
crucifixion of Apostle Peter

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Jerusalem! part 2, The Nation. "Israel to define itself as 'national state of Jewish people' "

Jerusalem! Introduction

Jerusalem! Part 1, The Land 

Jerusalem! Part 3, Its Glorious Spiritual Future

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

Jerusalem! It is the eternal city, (Psalm 46:4, Revelation 3:12) God's city where He has set His name, (1 Kings 11:36, 2 Chronicles 12:13) and is the city in which Immanuel (Matthew 1:23) will dwell in all His glory, (Zechariah 8:3) calling it Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is There.(Ezekiel 48:35). It is the nickname He uses when he calls His people. (Zechariah 3:2). It is a place that it figures solely as the most important land, city, and people in the history of the earth. All of history is dwindling down to one focal point: Jerusalem. So let's take a look at this incredible place.

God chose a people and a land to bring unto Himself. These are the Israelites and His land is Israel. Its city is Jerusalem. He made this promise to Abram in Genesis 12. God was actually delivering three distinct promises to Abram, later re-named Abraham. God made a land promise, a national promise, and a spiritual promise. In part 1 we looked at the land promise. Here is the verse--

"Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3).

Is Israel a great nation? Well, yes. It has developed some of the world's most wonderful technology. It has changed an arid place into a garden, and now most of the world's fruit is exported from there. It is a military nation, strong and mighty. It is a tiny nation, having given away land during successive political parliaments. It is only the size of Massachusetts, but it is incredible in that it simply did not exist for 1900 years and then one day it did!
NatGeo

However as much as Christians bless the nation, and pray for its deliverance, we have to be realistic. This is from a sermon titled "The Cleansing of Israel," delivered by John MacArthur in 1977. Not much has changed since then-

"Israel is not a religious nation. I would have to say that I doubt whether been in a more irreligious nation in my life than Israel. It's an irreligious nation. Their god is the god of armies, the god of strength, the god of surprise, the god of might, the god of racial identity, which is the big thing, but not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and not the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

Jerusalem is referred to as Salem in Genesis 14:18, when Abram honored Melchizedek, King of Salem and priest of the God Most High (unusual that this one is King AND Priest, something banned later in Israel's history. Priests always came from the tribe of Levi and Kings from the tribe of Judah).
 The meeting of Abraham with Melchizedek

Ezekiel 21:25-27 prophesied the end of the kings and there has been no king rightfully officiating over Israel since King Jehoiachin in about 600BC, shortly after Ezekiel's pronouncement. There has been no priest in Israel since the last High Priest serving when the Roman army came and overthrew the Temple in 70AD since Phannias ben Samuel and he wasn't even from a priestly family, he was just a revolutionary. he died during the Roman overthrow.

There is still no king or priest over Israel today. And of course, no prophet since John The Baptist and then Jesus prophesied there. There was not even any nation Israel between 70Ad and 1948. By this standard, the Israel of today is merely a political entity, led by a Prime Minister, a President, and a Parliament (Knesset).

Even during the period between May 1948 and June 1967, Jerusalem was not in Israel's hands. They won East Jerusalem back during the Six Day War of June 1967, wresting it from the Jordanians who were occupying it. Later that month the Israeli Knesset declared Jerusalem unified. On July 30, 1980, the Knesset passed a law declaring the City of Jerusalem to be ‘eternal and indivisible.’” The United Nations promptly condemned the action.

There is still contention today. For example, what are the city's borders? You can search for that answer online and you'll come up with millions of maps with dotted lines, position papers, and news articles, but no borders.

Why won't the world declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel? No country in the world has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Many do not recognize it as a city that is even belonging to Israel! When others proclaim that Jerusalem shall be their capital, not a murmur is heard from the world.




Why won't America declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel? We won't even place an embassy there. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is a public law of the United States passed by the 104th Congress on October 23, 1995. It was passed for the purposes of initiating and funding the relocation of the Embassy of the United States in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, no later than May 31, 1999. This law was never enacted, due to opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. (source). The US position is aligned with the United Nations- to 'internationalize" Jerusalem, make it be an international city.

Source Times of Israel
Why are there maps emerging one after one that not only fail to draw correct boundaries to Israel, but fail to list it in any way as even existing? This has happened over and over, including just a few days ago. Times of Israel reports, "Official UN workers in Lebanon posed with a map in which Israel did not exist, and the entire area from the Jordan to the sea was titled ”Arab Palestine.” At the launch of German-funded projects in Lebanon earlier in May, Ann Dismorr, director of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) affairs in Lebanon, held the map, which mentioned Jordan, Syria and the other neighboring countries by name — but neglected to name Israel."

Why does the world insist on calling Israel a state, and not a nation? Or a nation and not a state? Or a nation-state? The roots of the political conflict with Jerusalem and Israel lay in the fact that the Arab world refuses to declare it a national state for the Jewish people. Israel is set to define itself, "Israel's new government plans to pass a controversial new law defining the country as a "national state of the Jewish people" despite the presence of 1.5 million Arabs within its borders. It will be enshrined in Israel's Basic Law – the country's equivalent of a constitution - and lay down that The State of Israel is the National State of the Jewish People," as the UK Telegraph reports. 

Think about it. Since 1990 there have been 34 new countries to enter the world stage. A bunch of them came about as the Soviet Union dissolved. One of them was Armenia. The rest are listed below. The most recent is Sudan splitting into (Islamic) north Sudan and (Christian) South Sudan. (source)

March 21, 1990 - Namibia became independent of South Africa.
May 22, 1990 - North and South Yemen merged to form a unified Yemen.
October 3, 1990 - East Germany and West Germany merged to form a unified Germany after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
September 17, 1991 - The Marshall Islands was part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands (administered by the United States) and gained independence as a former colony.
September 17, 1991 - Micronesia, previously known as the Caroline Islands, became independent from the United States.
January 1, 1993 - The Czech Republic and Slovakia became independent nations when Czechoslovakia dissolved.
May 25, 1993 - Eritrea was a part of Ethiopia but seceded and gained independence.
October 1, 1994 - Palau was part of the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands (administered by the United States) and gained independence as a former colony.
May 20, 2002 - East Timor (Timor-Leste) declared independence from Portugal in 1975 but did not became independent from Indonesia until 2002.
June 3, 2006 - Montenegro was part of Serbia and Montenegro (also known as Yugoslavia) but gained independence after a referendum.
June 5, 2006 - Serbia became its own entity after Montenegro split.
February 17, 2008 - Kosovo unilaterally declared independence from Serbia.
July 9, 2011 - South Sudan peacefully seceded from Sudan following a January 2011 referendum. Sudan itself was the first to recognize South Sudan and did so one day early, on July 8, 2011.

Have there been successive UN Resolutions condemning their actions? Declaring where they may or may not build apartments? Fighting over which city is allowed to be their capital? Talks and endless talks over unifying territory, or splitting territory? Other nations managing as guardian large swathes of certain other nation's' lands? Wars? Of course not.

Only Israel sparks such attention, focus, and hatred.

Though there was a push several years ago for the vaunted 'two-state solution' to end the armed conflict over Israel, it subsided in 2008. I watched for years but we heard crickets on the Palestinian-Israeli peace plan. Until now. All of a sudden it revived big time. Secretary of State has rushed to Israel and environs to re-start the talks.

Yesterday the Guardian UK reported, "The British foreign secretary, William Hague, has warned of the risks of failure of the US-sponsored mission to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, suggesting that it was the last attempt possible at reaching a two-state solution to the conflict and there was no realistic "plan B". Hague spoke in Jerusalem shortly before US secretary of state John Kerry departed at the end of his fourth visit to the area, saying the time was approaching when "hard decisions" needed to be made."

This current iteration of the two state solution talks is like a cat. A cat will doze for hours, slumbering quietly in the sun. Little snuffles emit from its nose, convincing you it is asleep. Then all of a sudden for no reason it will jump up and RUN LIKE A MANIAC INTO THE NEXT ROOM! It's like it all of a sudden says "I need to be in there, right now." That is what the US Secretary of State is like. For at least five years, not a word was said about the Israeli peace talks. Now it is hectic activity as if we're approaching a cliff. And maybe we are.

The upshot is that Israel, and Jerusalem, is a political entity. It surely is a great nation, but it is without paying homage to her God. God is still with her, and will protect her to the end. She will be ravaged, for it has been the times of the Gentiles since the failure of the last king. Only gentile Kings ruled Israel, such as Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, etc. Even now she is without a king, only a Prime Minister.

These are the questions. This is today's Jerusalem, today's Israel, a politically buffeted nation without a king or a priest or world regard. The world is against it.

Anti-Semitism widespread among European Muslims
"Anti-Semitism in the Muslim World has always been problematic. After all, a 2008 Pew Research Center study shows that almost 100 percent of people in the Arab countries surrounding Israel hold anti-Semitic views. But what is even more problematic is how this anti-Semitism among Muslims has spread to the Western World, especially to children and teenagers. Anti-Semitism is rapidly spreading and becoming mainstream among young Muslims in Europe ..."

Source
Last week a Italian journalist Giulio Meotti asked in an Op-Ed,

How Did 150,000,000 Europeans Come to Hate Israel?
The Jewish religion is under attack in Europe”, declared the Conference of European Rabbis president Pinchas Goldschmidt. Many polls (such as the study on behalf of the German Social Democratic Friedrich Ebert Foundation) bring an iconic number measuring the disaster: 150,000,000 Europeans have a delegitimizing and demonizing view of the State of Israel and its citizens. For a large sector of Europe, the cities, skyscrapers, hospitals, cinemas, and schools on that tiny sliver of land named "Israel" are merely real estate that will be restored to Islam once this malefic Jewish form is swept away. This is a popular mobilization against Israel in the “Raus mit Uns” spirit. 150,000,000 Western citizens believe that Zionism is a misconceived project to be brought to an end as soon as possible."

He ended his piece this way, "Europe’s public opinion has been persuaded to believe that Israel is a state that ought to be dismantled forthwith. Europe's population count today is 730,000, 000 citizens. What would happen if the anti-Semitic worm infected the mind of all of them? Can Israel really remain immune from that eruption of psychotic anti-Jewish illness?"

Yes. and No. Political Israel's days are numbered. The world is coming against it as Zechariah showed in the prophecy. The psychotic illness that is Israel hate is satan's contribution to his plan to thwart God' The world will gather against Israel and surround Jerusalem. In this regard, the Italian journalist's questions is consistent with prophecy.

"“Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it." (Zechariah 12:2-3)

"And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child." (Revelation 12:13)

"For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. " (Zechariah 14:2).

"But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near." (Luke 21:20).

Things do not look good for the nation Israel and the city Jerusalem. And they aren't. But the Lord will come and save His nation, His people, and His city. The third part of the series on Jerusalem will look at its glorious future! And it IS glorious! They will go through a dark time, but then things become very bright, as bright as the glory of the LORD himself!
source

Friday, May 24, 2013

Jerusalem! part 1: The Land. Israel's biodiversity, geography, & wildlife

Jerusalem! Introduction

Jerusalem! Part 2, The Nation

Jerusalem! Part 3, Its glorious spiritual future
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It all begins and ends with Jerusalem.

Actually let's back up a bit. It all begins and ends with God.

Before the foundation of the world, God determined in His mind and His heart to select a people for Himself to have fellowship with. (Ephesians 1:4). And so began the creation of worlds, and His creation of people. (Genesis 1). Thereafter, several different dispensations occurred, being the various methods and means God used to enact this fellowship. A dispensation is a period of time in which man is tested in respect to obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God. These dispensations in my opinion are used to show man that he cannot attain God's standard of holiness on his own. I personally believe that in the Millennium when all people enter as either righteous or glorified righteous, Jesus is physically present on earth, and the demons and satan are bound in the abyss (so no temptation), that it will again be revealed that man cannot adhere to God's holy standards. This is proven by the final battle occurs. (Revelation 20:7-10)

In the Garden of Eden, after man sinned, he was no longer innocent, therefore God’s next method to persuade man to willingly love and serve Him was to appeal to his conscience. This Dispensation of Conscience, which began with man being expelled from the Garden of Eden and ended with the flood, lasted for approximately 1,656 years. "This dispensation is referred to as “The Age of Conscience” because of the fact that man was tested on the basis of obedience to his own conscience – that is, to his knowledge of what was right or wrong. Since there were no “laws” until after the flood, man was free to obey, or disobey, the dictates of his own conscience. Because man’s conscience was awakened in him as a result of his eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, man became conscious of sin and, as a result of this consciousness, became responsible to God for his conduct on the basis of his conscience. God’s purpose during this “Age of Conscience” was to prove to man that, when left to his own choice between right and wrong, nothing but failure can result." (source)

The Noahic Covenant began the next dispensation, the Age of Government. After that, when the flood
Noah's Sacrifice by Daniel Maclise, 1806-1870
waters subsided from the earth, we began the Age of Promise. "Man under promise Out of the dispersed descendants of the builders of Babel, God called one man, Abram, with whom He enters into covenant. Some of the promises to Abram and his descendants were purely gracious and unconditional. These either have been or will yet be literally fulfilled. Other promises were conditional upon the faithfulness and obedience of the Israelites. Every one of these conditions was violated, and the dispensation of promise resulted in the failure of Israel and closed in the judgment of bondage in Egypt."

During this dispensation, the LORD made a promise to Abram, found in Genesis 12.

The LORD chose Israel to be His nation and the Israelites to be His people. Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." (Gen. 12:1-3).

God was actually delivering three distinct promises to Abram, later re-named Abraham.

He made a land promise, a national promise and a spiritual promise.

1. The Land Promise: "A land that I will show you."
"He also said to him, "I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it." (Genesis 15:7). Genesis 15:18-21 describes the boundary of the promised land in terms of the territory of various ancient peoples: "On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates - the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites." This is the "borders of the Land" (Gevulot Ha-aretz).

This land promise has never been fulfilled. The land that God promised His people the Israelites is very extensive. It would encompass all of today's Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, part of Iraq to the Euphrates & Tigris, the Nile Delta of Egypt, and part of Saudi Arabia.

To compare, today the Arab League includes 21 separate Arab states spanning an area of more than 5,000,000 square miles (12.9 million sq. km.) However, there is only one Jewish state consisting of 8,000 square miles (20,715 sq. km.). It is called Israel. It is only slightly larger than Massachusetts.

Ancient maps placed Jerusalem in the center of the page. They knew that Jerusalem is God's city and is the fulcrum of history, the axle of the wheel, and the center of the world stage. In the Jewish tradition, the Ark in the Temple in Jerusalem, through which God revealed himself to His people, rested on the Foundation stone marking the "navel of world" wiki omphalos. Ezekiel 5:5, "This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations." We read a similar reference in Ezekiel 38:2, "to seize spoil and carry off plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who were gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell at the center of the earth."

And what of this land? What is it like? It is wonderful! From deserts of the southern Negev to the snow-capped mountains to the north, to the 270 miles of coastline along the Mediterranean and to the frontier at the east, it is a diverse land.
Mountains of Judea, source Wikipedia commons

Northern coast. Source Wikipedia commons

Jordan's Rift Valley, Source Wikipedia commons
Acacia tree in Negev Desert, Makhtesh Gadol, Wiki photo
The wildlife of Israel includes the flora and fauna of Israel, which is extremely diverse due to the country's location between the temperate and the tropical zones, bordering the Mediterranean Sea in the west and the desert in the east. (Wiki: Wildlife of Israel)

God called it a land flowing with milk and honey. (Exodus 3:8). A land with abundant milk means that it had abundant cattle (or goats), and that means abundant grasslands and pastures. I have read in several Jewish commentaries that the honey is not bee nectar but the syrup one extracts from dates or figs. Either way, it evokes the same sense of abundance, this time from vegetation.

According to Israel Birding website, "Israel is situated at an intercontinental junction- a bottleneck for
A Hoopoe, Israel's national bird
migration routes. An estimated 500 million (!!) birds pass through every spring and autumn, with 530 species in record. This website features Israel's latest birding news."

Israel's climate varies from semi-arid to temperate to subtropical. The region is home to a variety of plants and animals; at least 47,000 living species have been identified, with another 4,000 assumed to exist. 116 species of mammals are native to Israel, as well as 511 bird species, 97 reptile species, and seven amphibian species. There are also an estimated 2,780 plant species. There are insects belonging to roughly 27 orders in Israel, out of about 29 worldwide. (biodiversity in Israel)

From Nature Israel, "From ancient times Israel's native mammals have had an important role in Jewish culture, featuring in colourful biblical metaphors and prophecies, as symbols of the tribes of Israel or discussed at length in the dietary codes so central to the Jewish culinary tradition. The young David battles a bear and a lion, and Samson struggles with a juvenile lion. Torah scrolls are written on parchment from deer or antelope skins, the Jewish New Year is commemorated by blowing on the ram's horn and the very Land of Israel itself is described as the "Land of the Gazelle". Song of Solomon 8:14 mentions the gazelle in terms of its speed.  One of the sons of Zeruiah was compared to the speed of a gazelle in 2 Samuel 2:18.

Sadly the local lions and bears are now extinct, but most of Israel's native mammals familiar from the bible and folklore remain - the jackal and the gazelle, the rock hyrax and the ibex, the wolf and the leopard, the wild boar and the hare."

Psalm 104 mentions many different kinds of vegetation, birds, and mammals of Israel.
mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the rock badgers." (Psalm 104:18). Proverbs 30:24 says the following animals are 'exceedingly wise' and the hyrax, or rock badger, is one of those, "the rock badgers are a people not mighty, yet they make their homes in the cliffs;" (Prov 30:26). (Left, rock badger)

Lions and cheetahs are now extinct in Israel, but imagine young David, armed only with a slingshot, guarding his flock against wolves, lions, bears, leopards, and cheetahs. Not to mention hyenas and jackals. Leopards still exist in Israel today, as do other wild felines including caracals (a kind of lynx), bog cats and wild cats.

Bears are mentioned in 2 Kings 2:24 as animals that came out of the woods and tore up 42 youths who were mocking Elisha. Of course the lion is prominent in fact and in metaphor in the Land. Proverbs 30:30 says of the lion, "the lion, which is mightiest among beasts and does not turn back before any;". Proverbs 28:1b "but the righteous are as bold as a lion." The LORD used lions as a judgment when Assyrians settled in the Land and did not worship the LORD. (2 Kings 17:25).

The Lord has blessed His land with biodiversity, geographical diversity, a wondrous climate, and beautiful flora and fauna of all kinds. After the restoration when the curse is reversed, it will finally be all that He intends it to be, His city, His dwelling, named "The Lord is there" (Ezekiel 48:35. (Jehovah Shammah!)

Powerful 8.3 earthquake felt 4,400 miles away

There have been some powerful earthquakes in the last day or so.

USGS
Near the south Pacific Island of Tonga, there was a 7.4 earthquake, followed by a 6. aftershock. There were no tsunami warnings. The newspaper the Indian Express reports.
"A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck 255 kilometres (158 miles) southwest of Tonga today, according to the US Geological Survey, but there were no reports of damage. The quake hit at 5.19 am local time (2249 IST yesterday), and was centred 282 kilometres southwest of Tonga's capital Nuku'alofa and 171 kilometres deep. It was followed four hours later by a second powerful 6.6 tremor 84 kilometres northwest of the town and 103 kilometres deep. "A destructive tsunami was not generated based on earthquake and historical tsunami data," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said of each quake. The Matangi Tonga website said the quakes "shook homes and rattled windows" in Nuku'alofa but reported no damage. The powerful tremors also caused false alarms in New Zealand where the official GNS Science monitoring system reported tremors of 6.1 and 5.9 magnitude off the east coast of the North Island."
A powerful 8.3 quake struck in Russia's Sea of Okhostk early this morning. It was felt in Moscow, 4,400 miles away!
Source
Russia Earthquake: Powerful temblor hits
"A powerful earthquake on Friday hit Russia's Far East with tremors felt as far away as Moscow, about 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles) west of the epicenter. Marina Kolomiyets, spokeswoman for Obninsk's seismic station of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told The Associated Press the epicenter was in the Sea of Okhotsk, east of the Russian coast and north of Japan. She said the quake registered 8.0 on the Richter scale. The U.S. Geological Survey reported a magnitude of 8.3. The epicenter was in the Kuril-Kamchatka arc, one of the most seismically active regions in the world. Emergency agencies in the Far East issued a tsunami warning for Sakhalin and the Kuril islands, but lifted it soon afterwards."

According to USGS, the average number of quakes in the 7.0-7.9 range per year is 15. So far this year we have had 8.

According to USGS, the average number of quakes in the 8.0-8.9 range per year is 1. So far we have had two, one on February 6, 2013 and the other one today, May 24, 2013.

There was a strong quake in northern California today. There have been about 20 aftershocks in the location.
"An earthquake in far northeastern California was felt by thousands of people as far away as San Francisco and in two other states, but there have been no reports of injury or serious damage. The magnitude-5.7 quake broke dishes and shook mirrors when it struck at 8:47 p.m. Thursday, officials said. It was centered near Greenville, about 25 miles southwest of Susanville in far northeastern California, said Rafael Abreu, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Center in Golden, Colo. There have been several aftershocks, including a magnitude 4.9 that struck early Friday morning. Slight damage has been reported including objects falling from shelves and dishes rattled or broken, according to a report from the National Weather Service."

 "The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all." (Psalm 103:19)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further reading

Greatest earthquakes of the bible, Institute for Creation research

Jerusalem Post guest column, God, Man, and the Bible "According to Talmudic teaching, there clearly is a direct connection between human behavior and natural disasters."

Bible topic: earthquakes, verses about the topic of earthquakes, arranged by subject

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do not be fooled by the inclusion of a Pastor on this season's Masterchef

There is no realm that the gay lobby won't enter to normalize homosexuality.

I enjoy a tv cooking competition show called "Masterchef." Chefs/restaurateurs Joe Bastianich, Gordon Ramsay, and Graham Elliott audition home cooks and choose 18 to perform a series of contests to see which one over time will emerge as the most professional chef with the best cooking skills.

It is different from Ramsay's other cooking show, H-ll's Kitchen, because it features non-professional chefs, just home cooks. Because of this, the judges are nicer to the cheftestants, and the show is overall more wholesome and charming. Wednesday evening was the Masterchef's fourth season premiere.

Here is a quick rabbit trail. I noted that with the onset of Hulu and Netflix, the tv watcher's viewing habits have changed, including mine. I tend to watch an entire show's run all at once. I watch one show after another each evening, so rather than having to wait a week and during hiatus to see each episode, you get a feel for the show very quickly because little time has elapsed. TheWrap.com explains, "The move is a nod to the binge habits of its members, Netflix says, who prefer to see an entire season in a few sittings as opposed to tuning in for the latest episode at a particular time every week."

In viewing shows this way, the dark truth emerged. I noticed a pattern. In all the shows I binge-watched, season 3 consistently seems to be a turning point. Darkness enters in. Satan gets his clutches into the writers and the storylines become more immoral, more violent and worse overall by season 3. Oftentimes, gay characters are introduced, or gay themes.

This pattern was kept with Masterchef. Last night in watching the premiere, I was saddened to see much more sexual innuendo than in previous shows. I was briefly joyful that a pastor was chosen as a final contestant for the final audition but became concerned when I researched who this pastor is. He is a practicing homosexual living with a partner, had adopted three boys, and is promoting gay marriage.

A website chronicling Chicago Gay History lists this 52 year old "pastor" named Kevin Tindell's bio thus:
"Rev. Kevin E. Tindell is a change management consultant and minister. He and his partner are raising two sons. Tindell is active in Black gay and spiritual groups. He co-founded ONYX, a Black leathermen's group; Praise Center Chicago; and the Sanctuary Ministry. His involvement has included Chicago Black Lesbians and Gays, Adodi, Minority Outreach Intervention Project, Equality Illinois, Youth Pride Center, AIDS Legal Council, Jelani Unified Men's Project, Black Alumni of Notre Dame, and much more."
Tindell says he is a neo-Pentecostal starting up a new church with about 20 members. His staff is studying under controversial Obama pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as this website article explains. "The church claims about 20 members and refers to itself as a neo-Pentecostal denomination. Several members on the ministerial staff are currently receiving training at Trinity United Church of Christ under the direction of that church's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And one of the most important aspects of the church, besides its openness to the 'gifts of the spirit [including speaking in tongues]' is special outreach to the Black LGBT community."

In this video interview from a few weeks ago, "Pastor" Tindell says bible passages frequently quoted that seem to oppose actually mean something else. He explained, "There is no marriage ceremony in the bible. Marriage was around for property ownership. So when the bible says men should not lay with men like they lay with women, they're talking about...because you couldn't own men."

Tindell says "I am the face of marriage Equality" explaining, "But I promised God that if I met the man who was right for me, I would step up and ask him out… So, I did!” he continues. ... He adds, “Our faith in a God that created all, loves all, and accepts us just as we are sustains both our relationship and our family.”"

I always find it interesting how a reprobate mind twists the clear meaning of the word. In one example from another situation, I watched Todd Friel of Wretched Radio gently and lovingly engage a practicing lesbian in detailed manner through Romans 1:18-32. In Romans 1:18 it says "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth."  

The verses go on to describe how God gives them over to improper lusts if they deny God and suppress the truth. This one lesbian Friel was interviewing said, "I she don't deny God, so the verse does not apply to me."

Anyway, back to Masterchef and the gay pastor who will be featured for however long he lasts in the competition on this influential and highly rated show. I'm saddened that once again, even the most innocuous media presentation, this time a cooking show, chooses to feature homosexuality as normal. People from all over the world will see him and think that THIS is what Christianity is, or should be. They will cling to his version of who he says Jesus is, rather than the truth.

None of this is surprising. Satan is relentless in claiming any small crack for his own, and then ruthlessly exploiting that crack for his own dark purposes. However, if you are a fan of the show, I wanted to give you the background on this pastor. He is not all he seems, and he definitely needs prayers. So does his "partner" and the sons they are raising.

As far as his twisted interpretation of the fact that you couldn't own a male slave, that was unbliblical. Exodus 21:20 talks about male slave ownership. So does Leviticus 25:44. Philemon owned male slave Onesimus. Ephesians 6 and Colossians 3 both mention slavery.

Please continue to pray. This particular situation I've mentioned on the TV show may not last more than one more week, if Mr Tindell is eliminated from the competition. Or he may persevere for many weeks and bring his message of "Christian homosexuality" to millions. That doesn't matter. The point here is three-fold-

1. Satan persistently encroaches into every realm he can, but are we as persistent with the message of the GOOD NEWS?,
2. That just becuase a pastor is presented as a pastor doesn't mean he is a Christian or holds to biblical  doctrine,
3. and we need to be discerning about what media we absorb.

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

Further reading:

Verses which state homosexuality is a sin-
Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9.

Essays about homosexuality and the bible-
Is it possible to be a Gay Christian?
Christianity and Homosexuality