Scott's Blog - 7/31/08
Prophecy Update - Israel
If you are a regular reader of Scott's Blog you know that we are not subtle about pointing to Israel as a key to understanding the signs of the times.
A major event with both political and potentially prophetic implications is detailed today at Joel Rosenberg's Flash Traffic Blog.
* * * * FLASH TRAFFIC: WASHINGTON UPDATE * * * *
OLMERT TO RESIGN AFTER SEPT. 17:Updates & additional analysis
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will resign his office on or about September 17th. Suffering single digit approval ratings and haunted by numerous on-going corruption investigations, the Prime Minister just announced on national television that he will step down after the Kadima party primaries scheduled.
"I have decided I won't run in the Kadima movement primaries, nor do I intend to intervene in the elections," the embattled politician said just moments ago. "When a new (Kadima party) chairman is chosen, I will resign as prime minister to permit them to put together a new government swiftly and effectively....I want to make it clear – I am proud to be a citizen of a country where the prime minister can be investigated like a regular citizen. It is the duty of the police to investigate, and the duty of the prosecution to instruct the police. The prime minister is not above the law.... From my first day in office I was forced to ward off malicious attacks, even while dealing with far-reaching decisions affecting Israel's defense and existence. I continue to believe with all my heart that the achievement of peace, combating terror, strengthening our security, and the realization of a different type of relationship with our neighbors are all necessary goals for the future of the State of Israel."
It's not clear yet when new elections will be held. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is currently well ahead of all contenders to replace Olmert, but Israeli politics are Byzantine, to say the least, and anything could happen. Israel's political crisis could not come at a worse time, with the real threat of war with Iran growing daily.
UPDATE & ANALYSIS: With the Kadima primaries on September 17th, who are the top contenders to lead the party after Olmert? Tzippi Livni and Shaul Mofaz. Livni is currently Israel's Foreign Minister. Impressive personally and perhaps a rising star over the long haul, she was close to Olmert, and it was thought Olmert was groomed her to replace him. Eighteen months ago or so, she was the darling of the Israeli media, hobnobbing on the world stage with Condi Rice, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM Tony Blair, et al. At the time, she was soaring in the polls, and seemed competitive to take on Bibi Netanyahu in a head-to-head general election race. But as Olmert has sunk further and further in the polls, Livni has been dragged her down. She has had no major accomplishments as Foreign Minister thus far. What's more, Israelis are not sure she would be ready to be Commander in Chief in a war with Iran. Mofaz, on the other hand, was born in Iran, speaks Persian, and was Defense Minister under Ariel Sharon, after serving as the IDF chief of staff when Bibi was Prime Minister. He is perceived as tough and capable when it comes to military matters, but somewhat new to the political stage, having served nearly his entire career in the military and only elected to the Knesset in 2005. Nevertheless, he has risen quickly. He is currently Deputy Prime Minister and Transportation Minister and has a serious shot at seizing control of the Kadima party from Livni's hands. Mofaz is currently in Washington, and is saying that if he is elected Kadima leader, he will not call for general elections, but will try to re-form a unity coalition government, even asking Netanyahu to join the government. Netanyahu, however, says immediate general elections are essential and will not serve in a new unity government. A friend of mine who is a very close to several Israeli political leaders and a shrewd observer of the electoral landscape their sent me this email last night: "Most Kadima MK's know they will not be re-elected if they go to a general election. Why should they voluntarily give up their seats? After the primary, they will do what they can to keep the government ticking and that could mean another two years. By the way, Labor is so weak it would probably join a post-Olmert Kadima government. Mofaz is going to run hard right, which could collapse Likud because Bibi has been virtually silent on the issues. Look for Mofaz to stress Jerusalem and possibly pull a stunt like Sharon and the Temple Mount. The Livni-Mofaz race should be very close. Olmert is supporting Mofaz and so is Shas [the ultra-religious party]. If there are elections, I don't see it happening before March 2009."
The fall of Ehud Olmert from power is not surprising from a biblical point of view. Olmert early on adopted a peace at any price approach to crucial issues like the fate of Jerusalem. Word had leaked that he was pursuing a deal with Palestinian Fatah party head Mahmoud Abbas that would have ceeded control of the Temple Mount to the Arabs.
Since the Bible makes it clear that the Temple will be rebuilt on its historic site, such a ploy was doomed to failure.
It is also clear that God takes a very dim view of those who play fast and loose with His land.
I will also gather all nations,
And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
And I will enter into judgment with them there
On account of My people, My heritage Israel,
Whom they have scattered among the nations;
They have also divided up My land. (Joel 3:2)
Scott's Blog - 7/30/08
When Grief Meets Hope
When a believer in Christ comes face to face with the death of a loved one, the spiritual challenges are intense.
Interestingly, one of the most difficult to deal with can come from well meaning people inside the family of God.
Those who are in a struggle with overwhelming grief are sometimes greeted not with sympathy and compassion, but with sternness and even condescension.
"How can you be sad? Your loved one is in heaven. If you really believed that, you would rejoice."
I know such things are shared with good intentions, but there have been times when I have wanted to beat these masters of insensitivity over the head with a ten pound version of Strong's Concordance.
The Bible never says that experiencing grief is the sign of a defective faith.
Remember the shortest verse in the Bible?
Jesus wept. (John 11:35)
When was Jesus moved to tears? When He saw the damage that sin and death had done to the people He created. He shared the sorrow of the family and friends of Lazarus, even though He knew He was going to raise him from the dead.
Believers don't get the "Get Out of Jail Free" card from that kind of emotional pain in this life.
But we are given a priceless gift that can sustain us in the grief.
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)
When those who know the Lord grieve, they grieve in hope.
We know that although the pain is real and deep, it isn't permanent.
There is a reunion waiting for us on the other side.
A man who has given to us a priceless example of this truth in practice is Greg Laurie.
As you know, Greg's son Christopher died in a tragic car accident last week.
But this weekend at Harvest Christian Fellowship, Greg was able to share one of the most powerful and moving testimonies of the faithfulness of God in the midst of tragedy I have ever had the privilege to hear.
Greg Laurie after Son's Death: I Still Believe
Days after the devastating loss of his 33-year-old son, evangelist Greg Laurie stepped onto the pulpit Sunday and affirmed, "I still believe."
"I couldn't think of any place I'd rather be today than at church, worshipping the Lord," Laurie said during one of Harvest Christian Fellowship's Sunday services in Riverside, Calif.
His son, Christopher, died in a car accident on his way to Harvest, Thursday morning. His vehicle crashed into the back of a Caltrans truck on the eastbound 91 Freeway.
Laurie had to drive past the area where the crash occurred to get to Harvest on Sunday.
"Last Thursday was the most, I'll be honest with you, the most devastating day of my life and I felt like time just stood still and I couldn't imagine this happened," Pastor Greg Laurie told church attendees as he fought back tears. "But I knew he was in Heaven."
Christopher began working at Harvest as the art director three years ago. He was, as the older Laurie described him, a prodigal son at times. But in recent years, Christopher had really committed his life to Christ and was growing deep in his faith.
"My son wasn't perfect ... but the Lord was showing Christopher was really mattered," Laurie said. "We were marveling at what God was doing in his life. He couldn't have been in a better place spiritually."
Laurie and his son had a close relationship. The well-known evangelist had spoiled Christopher, giving his son what he himself couldn't have growing up in a broken home.
"If you could turn back time, sure you'd do it," Laurie said to his 15,000-member congregation. The Harvest senior pastor would even take Christopher's place if he could, he said, but he wasn't given that choice.
"So I just said, 'Lord, he's yours. I dedicated him to you when he was a little boy and I dedicate him back to you,'" Laurie said.
With over 17,000 comments offering condolences and prayers for the Laurie family on the pastor's blog, Laurie assured everyone, "I'm doing okay. The Lord is with me."
"I can't be afraid of suffering and I'm going to continue on with greater commitment," the pastor said.
Laurie is scheduled to lead Harvest Crusades beginning Aug. 15 in Anaheim, Calif., which will be his 19th annual Southern California evangelistic event. Harvest Crusades are also being held in Philadelphia and New York in October.
Even though the evangelist admitted that heaven is closer to him and earth is "less attractive" to him now, he hasn't given up on reaching out to tens of thousands of people and bringing them to Christ.
"I have a task to do and I want to do it," he assured.
And he continued his task by inviting non-Christians, prodigal sons and daughters, and others to accept Christ that Sunday morning.
"Be right with God because you don't know when life can end." http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080728/greg-laurie-after-son-s-death-i-still-believe.htm
Please continue to pray for the Laurie family as they lean on the Lord and experience that strange mixture of grief and hope in the days ahead.
Scott's Blog - 7/29/08
Up, Up and Away!
How do we know we are in the Last Days?
There are a number of signs of the times the Bible gives us to let us know that heaven's countdown is ticking.
One of the most interesting spiritual heads up predictions concerning the imminent return of Jesus is found in Daniel 12.
“But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”(Daniel 12:4)
As I shared on this passage last Sunday, I was taken aback at how much knowledge has increased even over the last 25 years.
In 1985, I was finishing up my final semester at Talbot Theological Seminary.
In order to complete my Master's thesis I had to do research by going to a building called a library. I had to get information from clumsy paper products we used to call "books".
When I sat down to prepare my final draft, I used an IBM Selectric type writer. This was considered cutting edge technology because if you wanted to use a font like italics, all you had to do was pop off this plastic ball and manually put in another one with a different type face.
It also had a correcting key that would lift errors off the page without having to use all that smelly and messy "White-Out" to cover mistakes.
The night before my paper was due I began the Herculean task of typing up my paper.
Then, about 11 pm, disaster struck. The ribbon (you remember those, don't you?) broke.
There was no replacement to be found and all the office supply stores were closed!
I managed to finish my paper by manually re-feeding the ribbon back into the machine so I could type another line.
The bottom line? I finished the paper at around 6:15 in the morning. And I also gave new definition to the term "ink stained wretch" as well!
Today, I sit before a HP Pavilion lap top.
Need some research? No more trips to the library. Today I just "Google" things.
Imagine explaining that to someone in 1985.
No doubt about it, as never before, Daniel 12's prediction that "knowledge will increase" has stunningly come to pass.
But what about this business of "many running to and fro"?
The meaning of the text is that as the time of Jesus' return would draw near, a quantum leap forward in transportation would also come to pass.
I couldn't help but think of this when I saw this story break on the Drudge Report today.
Tourists could be launched into space in just 18 months as Branson unveils mothershipLast updated at 11:27am on 29.07.08
The mothership which will launch the first space
tourists into the atmosphere was unveiled by Sir Richard
Branson in California today.
WhiteKnightTwo (WK2), the carrier aircraft which will
be used to launch SpaceShipTwo into orbit, 'will allow
thousands of people to realise their dreams' and 'act as a
catalyst to transform human access to space', Sir Richard
Speaking at the launch ceremony in the spaceship's hangar at the Mojave Air and Spaceport in California, the British billionaire, who will be among the first space tourists with his family, said the venture would help the world 'wake up' to the fragility of the planet and the importance of protecting Earth.
Space is 'the final frontier that is so essential to the future of civilisation on this planet', Sir Richard said.
Mothership: Richard Branson celebrates with his mother, Eve, who the craft has been named after.
'The first generation of space tourists, many of whom are with us today, will be paving the way as they marvel at the beauty of our planet and experience the freedom of weightlessness and the blackness of space,' he said. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23522941-details/Tourists+could+be+launched+into+space+in+just+18+months+as+Branson+unveils+mothership/article.do
Space tourism used to be the stuff of far flung science fiction. Now, within a year and a half it will be a scientific fact.
Talk about "to and fro"!
And talk about another important principle.
So much has changed so rapidly from my wrestling match with a broken type writer ribbon in 1985 it makes my head spin to think about it.
But prior to reading Daniel 12 last week, I hardly seemed to notice it.
Here is an incredibly powerful sign of the time the Bible tells us to look for, and I have to admit I was fairly oblivious to it.
I guess that's why Jesus' number one priority for His people and prophecy can be summed up in one word - watchfulness.
Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42-44)
Back then, we thought Pac Man was pretty cool!
If we take Daniel 12 seriously, I wonder what we might expect to see in another 25 years?
Scott's Blog - 7/28/08
Flash! Moonwalker Confirms Existence of Space Aliens!!
And no, we aren't referring to Michael Jackson.
Astronaut: We've had visitors
ST. PETERSBURG - The aliens have landed.
Thus declared Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell on Saturday to more than 200 admirers.
"A few insiders know the truth . . . and are studying the bodies that have been discovered," said Mitchell, who was the sixth man to walk on the moon.
Mitchell, who landed on the moon with Alan B. Shepard, said a "cabal" of insiders stopped briefing presidents about extraterrestrials after President Kennedy.
For those who might consider his statements farfetched, Mitchell, who has a doctorate in science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted that 30 years ago it was accepted that man was alone in the universe. Few people believe that now, he said. http://www.sptimes.com/2004/02/18/Neighborhoodtimes/Astronaut__We_ve_had_.shtml
Mitchell has made headlines after a controversial interview with an Australian radio station in which he stated that we are being regularly visited by E.T's and that the so called Roswell incident was a crash of a genuine UFO.
Hard to argue with a man whose credentials include having walked on the moon, right?
Or is it?
Mitchell's eyebrow raising statements are not limited to the realm of flying saucers.
Besides aliens, Mitchell talked about being freed of prostate cancer during a healing ceremony and his epiphany while returning from the moon.
"I had an opportunity to be a tourist," he said, going on to speak about the sensation he felt as he watched the Earth, moon and sun.
Raised as a Southern Baptist, Mitchell said his feeling of interconnectedness could not be explained by traditional religion alone. He later founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences.
On its Web site, the California organization says it conducts and sponsors "leading-edge research into the potentials and powers of consciousness" and that it explores "phenomena that do not necessarily fit conventional scientific models, while maintaining a commitment to scientific rigor."
The site also states that IONS, as it is known by members, is not a spiritual sect, political action group or single-cause institute.
Mitchell has also been noted as a passionate believer in ESP, even to the point of attempting experiments in telepathy while on his moonwalk.
In fact NASA has gone to great lengths to emphasize that it in no way endorses the statements Mitchell makes as a private citizen.
The point is that expertise in one area does not guarantee reliability in another.
As in, just because someone is a successful football coach does not mean they are beyond question when they make statements about personal finance.
Just because someone has had a hit record doesn't mean they can offer solid counsel on matters of science or politics.
Just because someone has made it to the top in the world of business, does not mean they are right on in their views of biblical truth.
The bottom line?
No matter how credentialed or charismatic a speaker might be, the Bible has an essential word of advice.
Test all things; hold fast what is good. (I Thessalonians 5:21)
How do we test the increasingly sensationalistic truth claims we are bombarded with in our culture?
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:10-11)
The Edgar Mitchell controversy drives home an important point - There is nothing wrong with having an open mind, as long as we also have an open Bible.
Scott's Blog - 7/24/08
Sharing In Sorrow
During the second break in today's edition of Scott Richards Live, my producer delivered sad news.
Calvary Chapel pastor and evangelist Greg Laurie's son Christopher died today in a tragic traffic accident.
I have to tell you it was really difficult to receive such news and continue on with the program.
Christopher was only thirty years old. He leaves behind a wife and young daughter.
Immediately after receiving such news, some predictable questions arise -
Why did God let this happen?
Was it part of a bigger plan?
Why did this happen to such a good person?
And I would love to tell you that answers direct from Heaven will be forthcoming.
But they won't.
At least in the way we would like to have them.
In fact, when Jesus was asked about a senseless tragedy of His time, He had a very different answer than many of us would expect.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
This was no minor bump on the road of life.
Talk about bad things and good people! What could be a greater example of "good" than God's people faithfully offering sacrifices in the Temple?
What did they get for it?
As a pointless example of the might makes right policies of Imperial Rome.
Why? How? Where was God?
The only answer?
Jesus in essence said that death is coming to all men.
The wise man gets right with God because we will all stand before Him some day, and eternity is a long bargain.
When I heard the news about Christopher, I debated as to whether to make an announcement on the air so that our audience could pray for Greg, Cathe and the rest of the family.
I was going to conclude the program with that appeal.
But going into the final segment we received an off the air call from a man with an important question - "What do I need to do to be saved?"
At that moment I knew the best way to honor and support a family that has devoted themselves to sharing that message with literally millions of people.
With the last moments of the broadcast I shared the Good News of Jesus Christ.
It is because of that Good News that Christopher is now in Heaven.
It is because of that Good News that the Laurie family will find hope and comfort in their grief.
It is because of that Good News that many more people will receive God's love and forgiveness, even in this valley of the shadow of death.
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“ O Death, where is your sting? (I Corinthians 15:54-55)
Scott's Blog - 7/23/08
The 6 Million Dollar Question
Most of us are familiar with the observation of Edmund Burke, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."
But is it also possible that evil will triumph if good men say nothing?
That question has assumed center stage today outside of Israel's Holocaust Memorial, Yad Vashem.
Obama Dons Yarmulke at Yad Vashem; Peres Praises His "Moving Humanity"
July 23, 2008 6:42 AM
Alert…Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, has crossed into the West Bank on his way to meet with leaders of the Palestinian National Authority in Ramallah.
This trip comes after several other meetings, with Defense Minister Ehud Barack and Likud Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu this morning and a visit to the Holocaust Memorial and Museum Yad Vashem.
Obama left his hotel this morning, traveling in a bullet-proof limousine that was part of a nine-car motorcade. Upon arrival at Yad Vashem, Obama was greeted by Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem.
An Israeli journalist called out to Obama: “Can you ensure that there will be no second Holocaust?”
Obama walked into the museum’s main building without responding.
Once again an Israeli journalist asked the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee how he’d help prevent a second Holocaust. "Senator can you assure Israel that there will be no second Holocaust despite Iran's threat to wipe us off the map?" he asked.
Obama demurred, saying that it wasn't appropriate to answer the question there.
"This is Yad Vashem!" the journalist responded.
Obama said he would answer the question at a later press availability. http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/07/obama-dons-yarm.html
Although Senator Obama did put on the traditional Jewish head covering and wrote of how impactful the visit had been in the guest book, one must wonder why he was so hesitant to answer a question from the "no brainer" hall of fame.
In Israel, in the shadow of a monument to arguably the most horrific demonstration of evil in human history, Mr. Obama was given the opportunity to definitively make a stand against genocide.
This is right up there with, "Senator, can you assure America that we will celebrate the Fourth of July during your administration?"
Or "Senator, are you in favor of the Constitution?"
Hit it out of the park!
"America will never stand idly by while a valued and loyal ally is threatened with extermination."
But the answer? A poorly calculated silence.
A silence that raises questions in Israel.
A silence that raises hopes among the mad mullahs of Tehran.
Hopefully Mr. Obama will issue a strong statement at "a later press availability".
But words, or the lack of them, matter in the Middle East.
As they should in the hearts of God's people.
Why has God shed His grace upon the United States?
More and more I have become convinced that we are blessed because we have stood with the sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless those who bless you,
How much longer can we count on this blessing if we remain silent when the enemies of Israel promise another Holocaust?
And if we aren't willing to speak against another Holocaust, can Israel really expect the United States to stand against another Holocaust?
And if we aren't willing to stand against another Holocaust, can we really expect the God of Abraham to stand with us?
Scott's Blog - 7/22/08
What Will We Find In "The Shack"?
It is a # 1 New York Times Best Seller.
It's endorsers read like a "Who's Who" of modern Christian and even secular media.
Eugene Petersen went so far as to say, "This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good."
It is "The Shack".
A little novel written by an Oregon salesman and self-published by two former pastors with a $300 marketing budget is lighting up USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list with a wrenching parable about God's grace.
First-time author William P. Young's book The Shack, in which the father of a murdered child encounters God the Father as a sarcastic black woman, Jesus as a Middle Eastern laborer and the Holy Spirit as an Asian girl, is No. 8 on the list.
Young says that when he wrote the book in 2005, "my only goal was to get copied and bound at Kinko's in time for Christmas as a gift to my kids."
Until The Shack sales soared, he was a manufacturer's representative for a technology company by day and did website design work on the side. But he had always been a writer, he says, who gave poems and stories as gifts.
He wrote the book to explain his own harrowing journey through pain and misery to "light, love and transformation" in God to his six children, ages 14 to 27.
Eleven years ago, Young says, he was hanging on by a thread, haunted by his history as a victim of sexual abuse, by his own adulterous affair, by a life of shame and pain, all stuffed deep in his psyche.
"The shack" was what he called the ugly place inside where everything awful was hidden away. The book is about confronting evil and stripping the darkness away to reveal a loving God within, he says.
Lynn Garrett, senior religion editor for Publishers Weekly, calls the book's success "most unusual. It's every self-published author's dream to start out this way and sell at this level."
Why are so many heading for The Shack?
"People are not necessarily concerned with how orthodox the theology is. People are into the story and how the book strikes them emotionally," Garrett says. http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/2008-04-30-shack_N.htm
Those who love the message of "The Shack" are positively evangelical about it. Pastors are basing sermon series around it. Others are forming what are called "Shack Studies" to discuss and encourage application of it.
But as you can imagine, not everyone has found a visit to "The Shack" an edifying experience.
Berit Kjos offers this analysis of the portrait of God contained in "The Shack".
The Shack opens in the context of tragedy. Four years have passed since the cruel murder of Missy, Mack's precious six-year-old daughter. Enveloped in grief, he receives a strange invitation. "I've missed you," it says. "I'll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together. Papa." What could it mean?
Doubtful, but drawn to the meeting, Mack heads for the Oregon wilderness and finds the dilapidated old shack. "God" miraculously transforms it into a cozy cottage, and Mack meets his supposed maker:
Their ongoing dialogues reinforce this new view of God. They immerse Mack in spiritual re-education, for each comment contradicts his previous understanding of God. For example, this new "Jesus" never returned to heaven. Was there no real resurrection? Not according to the female "God":
But the Bible tells us that Jesus did return to His heaven after His crucifixion. Besides, neither God our Father nor the Holy Spirit made themselves finite or visible to man. "No one has seen God at any time," said the true Jesus. (John 1:18) Yet, here we see all three in human form -- on earth! "God" explains:
As you can tell this is challenging, controversial stuff.
Wayne Jacobsen, a member of the pastoral vetting team behind "The Shack" explains the decidedly unexpected portrait of God in this way:
The book uses some characterizations of God to mess with the religious stereotypes only to get people to consider God as he really is, not how we have reconstituted him as a white, male autocrat bent on religious conformity. There are important reasons in the story why God takes the expressions he does for Mack, which underlines his nature to meet us where we are, to lead us to where he is. While Jesus was incarnated as man, God as a spirit has no gender, even though we fully embrace that he has taken on the imagery of the Father to express his heart and mind to us. We also recognize Scripture uses traditional female imagery to help us understand other aspects of God’s person, as when Jesus compares himself to a hen gathering chicks, or David likens himself to a weaned child in his mother’s arms. http://lifestream.org/blog/2008/03/04/is-the-shack-heresy/
"The Shack" certainly has a strong message of grace.
Those who love the book speak of its eloquent and emotionally moving portrayal of the power of God's unconditional love to sustain and strengthen those whose lives have been wracked by personal tragedy.
But at what cost?
The book certainly accomplishes its goal of "messing with religious stereotypes".
But does it stop there?
Is it possible it is also "messing with" a scripturally based understanding of the nature of God?
My encounter with "The Shack" reminded me of the time I spent in churches involved with the "Faith Movement".
There was no doubt that the people there loved the Lord and desired to honor His Word.
There was also no doubt that many of the services I attended were emotionally moving and helpful to those who attended.
But there was also no doubt that as I grew to understand God's Word, I began to see some serious disconnects between the messages being preached and the message of the Bible.
My unease came to a head when I sat in a study where the teacher claimed that in the eternal state God would come up to us and say, "Child, go create a planet for Me."
At that moment I faced a choice.
There was so much good going on there. I had been built up and strengthened there. I had seen miracles and people being genuinely saved there.
But when leadership began putting words more in keeping with Joseph Smith than Jesus Christ in the mouth of God the Father, I knew where my ultimate loyalties had to lie.
How does this relate to "The Shack"?
I have no doubt there are many edifying aspects of this fictional story.
I have no doubt hurting people will be blessed by aspects of this book as they accurately reflect the truth of God's Word.
But whenever we start putting words in God's mouth that He has never said.
Or describe God in a way he is never presented in the Word.
We are on shaky ground.
Each reader will have to form their own conclusions about "The Shack".
But as you evaluate this fictional work, could I respectfully encourage you to engage in the following exercise.
If you found yourself in church on Sunday morning, and the pastor began to speak about your relationship with "God the Mother" -
Would you sit all the way through the message because you heard that the other things the pastor had to say were very moving and helpful?
Would you come back the next week?
Would you recommend the fellowship to others?
In this light, Lynn Garrett's observation greatly concerns me.
"People are not necessarily concerned with how orthodox the theology is. People are into the story and how the book strikes them emotionally."
Paul gave us a heads up about the rise of just this kind of acceptance of emotionally impactful but spiritually questionable messages in the Last Days:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (II Timothy 4:3-4)
Scott's Blog - 7/21/08
Another Ezekiel Option?
Short of the book of Revelation itself, there are few books of the Bible that have galvanized more attention than the prophecies of Ezekiel.
Thanks largely to the amazingly prescient geo-political thrillers of our friend Joel Rosenberg, the predictions of a Last Days invasion of Israel by a Russian led coalition of nations (including modern Iran) are not just the stuff of sermons, or prophecy conferences. We now hear about them in the decidedly secular precincts of CNN and Fox News Channel.
But Ezekiel's prophecies concerning the fate of Israel are not simply restricted to this vision of a cataclysmic war.
There is another chapter in the same neighborhood that speaks of another miraculous intervention of God - the famous vision of the valley of dry bones.
The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”
Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They indeed say, ‘Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it,” says the LORD.’”(Ezekiel 37:1-14)
This prediction is remarkable on two fronts. First it tells us that from the very shadow of the grave, Israel will be restored as a nation.
The fact that guilt over the Holocaust of WWII was a major motivator for the world to recognize the nation of Israel is a fulfillment of this prophecy.
But just as significant as the physical restoration of Israel is the subsequent spiritual rebirth of the nation that Scripture says will follow.
In fact, we may be seeing this very prophecy beginning to be fulfilled in our day.
Israel's Messianic Jews: Some Call it a Miracle
By Wendy Griffith
CBN News Senior Reporter
July 21, 2008
CWN.org - In Israel, a resurgence in the number of Jews who believe in Jesus is getting a lot of attention. Many leaders say it's the strongest growth since the time of Jesus and that the Messianic movement could be on the brink of a great revival.
"This is the first time where we've seen Israeli society in general being so open to consider who Yeshua is," said Messianic leader Asher Intrater. "This is a real miracle, and there's beginning to be grace and favor with us in the land."
Although Jesus and the early disciples were Jewish, for nearly 2,000 the gospel has been viewed as a religion mainly for Gentiles. Even the name Jesus or Yeshua has been a forbidden word among many Jews. But in the last few years, Messianic leaders in Israel say something important is happening.
"I believe with all my heart, after we have come back to the land, we are seeing the Lord, the Holy Spirit, is removing the veil from the eyes of the Jews and more and more Jews are realizing," Tel Aviv pastor Avi Mizrachi said.
Although nobody knows for sure how many Messianic Jews live in Israel, it's believed there are about 120 congregations now and 10,000-15,000 Jewish believers in Jesus.
That may not sound like many, given Israel's nearly six million Jews, but it's a far cry from 10 years ago, when there were only about 3,500 Jewish believers and 80 congregations.http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/407139.aspx
There is no doubt that in a land where the term "missionary" is considered a dirty word, our brothers and sisters in Israel have their work cut out for them.
But the Bible insists that God has a plan that will result in a massive turn to faith in Jesus as His return approaches.
As Paul put it:
For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:15)
Just as the stage is being set for awful moments like the Gog and Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38-39, never forget the stage is also being set for the dry bones to come alive.
Scott's Blog - 7/17/08
The Valley Of the Shadow From One Who Has Been There
Earlier in the week, we noted with sadness the passing of journalist, writer, talk show host and presidential press secretary Tony Snow.
We also noted the inexcusably rude and inaccurate exercise in "Elephant Hurling" that characterized the Associated Press' coverage of this event. (See Scott's Blog 7/14)
But today we had the opportunity to see that the best answer to unfair criticism is a life well lived.
Tony Snow was laid to rest following a memorial in his honor in Washington D.C.
According to Fox News Channel, Tony's son Robbie was the final speaker to offer a tribute to his father's life.
He concluded his eulogy with a quote from a powerfully insightful article Tony wrote for Christianity Today called "Cancer's Unexpected Blessings".
The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.
Most of us have watched friends as they drifted toward God's arms not with resignation, but with peace and hope. In so doing, they have taught us not how to die, but how to live. They have emulated Christ by transmitting the power and authority of love.
Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?
When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.
It is hard to describe, but there are times when suddenly the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and you feel a surge of the Spirit. Somehow you just know: Others have chosen, when talking to the Author of all creation, to lift us up—to speak of us!
This is love of a very special order. But so is the ability to sit back and appreciate the wonder of every created thing. The mere thought of death somehow makes every blessing vivid, every happiness more luminous and intense. We may not know how our contest with sickness will end, but we have felt the ineluctable touch of God.
What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don't know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place—in the hollow of God's hand. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2007/july/25.30.html?start=3
When I read this article I couldn't help but be reminded of a verse from the book of Revelation.
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”(Revelation 14:13)
How many people who will also have their day in the Valley of the Shadow will be blessed and encouraged by the testimony of Tony Snow?
Not the well meaning words of the healthy and strong, attempting to use their best imaginations to achieve some level of empathy.
But someone who has walked through the valley of tears and points ahead to the paradise that awaits on the other side.
More than any broadcast, more than any press conference, more than any well reasoned political perspective, these words may be Tony Snow's most lasting achievement.
Scott's Blog - 7/16/08
The Miracle of the Fig Tree
One of the most often asked questions we receive concerning the Second Coming of Jesus revolves around an intriguing piece of the prophetic puzzle found in Matthew 24.
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)
Identifying the fig tree with a commonly found Old Testament symbol for the nation of Israel, some commentators have seen in this passage a prophetic stop watch. Using the return of Israel to the land as a starting point, they believe that by adding the time of a biblical generation to the year 1948 we can determine the time of Jesus' return.
A couple of problems come up in these discussions. First, how long is a generation? Some will point to Numbers chapter 14, the forty years of wilderness wandering as a definitive mark. But in Psalm 90, Moses observed that the days of man are seventy years, or eighty if he has strength.
Second, when do we start the clock? Some will point to May 14, 1948, the day Israel was declared a nation by the UN. Others will say that it began at the end of the '67 War when Israel retook Jerusalem and made it their capitol. Others will say the clock hasn't started yet because Israel has delegated control of the Temple Mount to the Moslem authority known as the Waqf.
Which is correct? Time will certainly tell.
But consider another possibility . The word translated "generation" is the Greek word "genea". It can mean a generation in the sense of a people living at a particular time.
But it can also mean a race of people.
Would it be equally amazing if Jesus was predicting that the Jewish race would not pass away until the time of His return?
Even a casual look at history reveals this to be the case.
Cultural anthropologists tell us of what is called the Five Generation Rule. Remove any people group from their native homeland, immerse them in another place, with another culture and another language, and within five generations they will completely lose their previous identity.
There is one exception to the Five Generation Rule - the Jews.
Not only have they doggedly held on to their identity as the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, they have done so in the face of the most horrendous persecution and hatred this world has ever witnessed.
The fact they survived to return to the Promised Land as a nation is nothing short of astounding.
But so is the fact that they have survived as a nation after their return.
I was reminded of the constant providential watch care God exercises over Israel when I read an article in the Jerusalem Post on the 1981 bombing of Saddam Hussein's Osirak nuclear weapons development facility.
As many of you know, the IAF successfully destroyed this reactor in an incredibly daring raid that will go down as one of the most successful bombing missions in aviation history.
But what you might not know is how close this foray came to complete disaster.
Jerusalem Post editor David Horovitz provides these harrowing details.
The troubles had started even before takeoff. Lining up on the tarmac earlier, one of the planes, flown by Doobi Yaffe, had encountered a fueling malfunction, precluding the vital pre-takeoff final "top up" that was thought might be crucial for the pilots to cover the unprecedented distance to Osirak and back.
Another of the planes, that of Amir Nachumi, suffered complete electrical failure on the tarmac. Ten minutes before takeoff, Nachumi was forced to abandon the F-16 in which he'd trained for months and requisition a backup plane, which would inevitably handle a little differently, from the nearby hangar. (The next day, safely returned from their mission, when IAF ground crews rolled out the eight F-16s for maintenance checks, all eight failed to start, sporting an array of mechanical failures. As Claire quotes Nachumi remarking wryly: "Who says planes do not have souls.")
Potential disaster also struck when, as the eight F-16s violated Jordan's airspace en route to their target, flying low to evade radar, they were spotted by King Hussein, out sailing his royal yacht at Aqaba. The king phoned his defense headquarters in Amman to report the sighting of what, despite the camouflage paint, were all-too evidently Israeli F-16s streaking eastward on a bombing run. He was assured that his security apparatus had picked up nothing suspicious. If the king tried to alert the Iraqis, he evidently failed to do so.
And over the target zone itself, the operation was immeasurably eased by the fact that not only had the Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery units taken a break for their evening meal just prior to the raid - as the Mossad had established they would - but they had also, inexplicably, shut down their radar systems. These systems were still only warming up when the Israeli pilots bombed the reactor; the Iraqi defense teams thus had no radar or computer guidance as they tried to fire back and the Israelis - right through to the last, most endangered of the pilots, Ilan Ramon - were able to bomb and escape the scene. The only people hit by the panicked defensive fire, indeed, were Iraqi soldiers on the far side of the Osirak complex, several of whom were killed in the chaos.
Read the whole account at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1215330934125
The list of inexplicable events that all had to happen for this mission to be successful is too long to credibly ascribe to lucky breaks or good fortune.
God was watching over His people. This same mad man who would reign down Scud missiles on Israel some 10 years later would do so without the benefit of nuclear weaponry.
Against all odds, the Jewish "genea" continues on.
The story is told of King Louis of France asking his court advisors if they could offer him one undeniable proof of the existence of God.
His chief advisor responded by saying simply, "The Jews, your Majesty. The Jews."
King David put it this way.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
My help comes from the LORD,
Scott's Blog - 7/15/08
I've Fallen (And My Lawyer Tells Me) I Can't Get Up!
If it feels good, do it!
This was a motto often heard in the disco scene of the late '70's.
Who would have thought that would become the new order of worship in the church?
See if you can spot this new spiritual philosophy at work in story straight out of the loony litigation hall of fame.
Man sues church for injuries after claiming spirit of God forced him to fall
Now he wants a Tennessee church to pay $2.5 million for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Matt Lincoln says he is suing after the church's insurance company denied his claim for medical bills.
The 57-year-old has had two surgeries since the June 2007 injury but still feels pain in his back and legs.
He says he was asking God to have "a real experience" while praying.
Lincoln says he has fallen from the force of the spirit before but has always been caught by someone.
Lawyers for the church say other congregants saw him on the floor laughing after his fall. They say he failed to look out for his own safety. http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/07/10/america/NA-ODD-US-Felled-By-Spirit.php
This incident raises a number of profound theological questions.
If God caused this man to fall, why couldn't he have miraculously caused a heavenly pillow to materialize to cushion the drop?
Does heaven have a liability department to cover the unintended after effects of "real experiences"?
If you are going to sue for an "act of God", how do you deliver the summons to appear?
Or how about a more serious question - where in God's Word do we find this all too common practice of keeling over in church described as an act of worship?
Did Jesus do this in His prayer time?
Did the early church demonstrate this practice in Acts?
Do we see what people call being "slain in the Spirit" explained and instructed in the letters of Paul, or Peter, or John, or Jude?
But what do we find?
Let all things be done decently and in order. (I Corinthians 14:30)
When emotionalism, sensationalism and experientialism take priority over the clear teaching of God's Word, the fruit is never good.
Unless you happen to be a discount personal injury attorney.
When we see practices like people falling backwards into the arms of deacons with the gift of "catching", or a pastor ministering to a cancer sufferer by kicking him in the stomach, or a pastor getting a "special word" that five people will give $5000 before people will be allowed to leave a service, there is always a check in our hearts, a sense that this just isn't right.
Pay attention to that check.
And don't be afraid to ask, "Where is this practice taught in the Bible? Where did Jesus do, or endorse such things?"
If the response is an indignant, "Well, if you had faith you'd know this was true!"
Don't be intimidated.
Don't feel like there is something wrong with your faith.
Or that you are the skunk at the picnic.
Take a stand for the Word, and for the Lord.
People have always been on shaky ground when they "teach as doctrines the traditions of men." (Matthew 15:9)
Make it your business to walk with the Lord, in the light of His Word.
Then you won't be the next one to take a fall!
Scott's Blog - 7/14/08
Is It Just Me Or Is It Getting Chilly In Here?
One of the more easily observable signs of the times Jesus told us to look for as the time of His return drew near is recorded in Matthew 24:12.
"And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
The spiritual thermostat in our society was set a few degrees lower by the Associated Press this weekend.
As you may already know, columnist and talk show host extraordinaire Tony Snow passed after a years long battle with cancer. He had even served for a time as press secretary for George W. Bush.
Normally when a national figure like Tony Snow passes away, the media will note the event with as little editorializing as possible.
Respect for the dead, sympathy for the family in mourning - you know the drill.
But apparently that common courtesy doesn't extend to those who served in the current White House. Consider this exercise in questionable objectivity run by the Associated Press in Sunday's papers.
Former Bush press secretary Tony Snow dies
WASHINGTON (AP) — Tony Snow, a conservative writer and commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush's press secretary, died early Saturday of colon cancer. Snow was 53 years old.
"Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our dear friend, Tony Snow," Bush said in a statement. "The Snow family has lost a beloved husband and father. And America has lost a devoted public servant and a man of character."
Snow, who served as the first host of the television news program "Fox News Sunday" from 1996 to 2003, would later say that in the Bush administration he was enjoying "the most exciting, intellectually aerobic job I'm ever going to have." http://www.bizzyblog.com/APonTonySnowDeath071208.html
No problems so far, right?
But the article doesn't end there.
The "reporter" simply cannot resist taking repeated cheap shots at Snow's character.
- Snow was working for Fox News Channel and Fox News Radio when he replaced Scott McClellan as press secretary in May 2006 during a White House shake-up. Unlike McClellan, who came to define caution and bland delivery from the White House podium, Snow was never shy about playing to the cameras.
With a quick-from-the-lip repartee, broadcaster's good looks and a relentlessly bright outlook — if not always a command of the facts — he became a popular figure around the country to the delight of his White House bosses.
- In that year and a half at the White House, Snow brought partisan zeal and the skills of a seasoned performer to the task of explaining and defending the president's policies. During daily briefings, he challenged reporters, scolded them and questioned their motives as if he were starring in a TV show broadcast live from the West Wing.
- Critics suggested that Snow was turning the traditionally informational daily briefing into a personality-driven media event short on facts and long on confrontation.
What kind of conclusions would the average person draw from these assertions?
Tony was (according to the AP) "factually challenged". Isn't that a politically correct way of calling someone a liar?
"Never shy about playing to the cameras"?What else is someone who is holding televised press conferences supposed to do? But the insinuation seems to be that he was nothing more than a media savvy show man.
The charge by certain "critics" that somehow a White House Press briefing was supposed to be as much of a factual down load as hearing the Boy's Vice Principal read the morning bulletin over the high school P.A. system shows a complete unfamiliarity with the give and take of such proceedings.
But the fact that Tony Snow would not curry the favor of the rabidly partisan White House Press Corps by rolling over and playing dead is apparently a character flaw. How dare he "scold" us, when we are here to scold him?
But the most significant aspect of this thinly veiled "hit piece" is not just that it is bitter, ill mannered and shows no compassion whatsoever for the Snow family in their hour of loss.
The most significant phenomenon on display is a rhetorical technique called "Elephant Hurling".
This is where a person will make a summary statement - "Tony Snow had a relentlessly bright outlook, if not a command of the facts" - that gives the impression it is backed by nearly indisputable evidence.
Whenever you hear the words, "Everybody knows.." or "Only a fool would believe that.." you have entered into a classic "Elephant Hurling" session.
The dangerous part of this approach is that the so called obvious truth is never supported by specific facts or a consistent number of incidences to back up the statement.
How to counter this underhanded style of debate? Simply ask an obvious question.
"When did Tony Snow play fast and loose with the facts?"
"An example or two, if you please."
"Who were these 'critics'? Were they credible? Or did they have their own axe to grind?"
We get the same treatment from antagonistic non Christians when it comes to the reliability of the Christian faith.
On a phone in, NPR affiliate talk show I was once challenged with this classic circus elephant sized attack.
"Everybody knows the Bible has been changed countless times."
My response, "So specifically how many times has it been changed?"
"Well, err..Thousands and thousands of times."
"Can you give me a specific example of where the message of the Bible has been edited?"
Cut to sound of crickets chirping.
And perhaps that is why we see outrages like this bitter partisan attack dressed up as an objective news story.
There was a time in our culture when we would refrain from doing certain things because it would be considered the wrong thing to do.
But when your only moral compass is no longer a shared notion of absolute truth, but only what feels right to you at a particular moment, fire away.
And be so convinced of your own smug self righteousness that you don't care that you are taking public shots at a real human being who leaves behind a grieving wife and three children.
And so the world becomes a little bit colder.
White House spokesman Tony Snow conducts his first press briefing in White House in 2006.
Robert Anthony Snow was born June 1, 1955, in Berea, Ky., and spent his childhood in the Cincinnati area. Survivors include his wife, Jill Ellen Walker, whom he married in 1987, and three children.
Seeing Is Believing?
That old adage has taken a major hit these days.
Maybe it is having our senses overwhelmed at the theater with the latest in special effects technology.
Perhaps its having our eyes roll after watching the latest "fake but accurate" scandal undermine the credibility of even venerable media institutions like "60 Minutes".
But more and more people are beginning to wonder if we can really trust what our eyes are telling us.
It seems like the best advice to follow when we wander into the media marketplace of ideas is the same one that serves us well at the local swap meet - "caveat emptor" or "let the buyer beware".
Not everything is at it appears at first glance.
And having a healthy dose of skepticism isn't always a bad thing.
It can safeguard us from being the latest victim of clever deception.
Or in some cases, not so clever deception.
July 10, 2008, 9:16 am
In an Iranian Image, a Missile Too Many
Updated, 9:33 a.m., Agence France-Presse has retracted the image as “apparently digitally altered.”
As news spread across the world of Iran’s provocative missile tests, so did an image of four missiles heading skyward in unison. Unfortunately, it appeared to contain one too many missiles, a point that had not emerged before the photo appeared on the front pages of The Los Angeles Times, The Financial Times, The Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers as well as on BBC News, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, NYTimes.com and many other major news Web sites.
Agence France-Presse said that it obtained the image from the Web site of Sepah News, the media arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, on Wednesday. But there was no sign of it there later in the day. Today, The Associated Press distributed what appeared to be a nearly identical photo from the same source, but without the fourth missile.
As the above illustration shows, the second missile from the right appears to be the sum of two other missiles in the image. The contours of the billowing smoke match perfectly near the ground, as well in the immediate wake of the missile. Only a small black dot in the reddish area of exhaust seems to differ from the missile to its left, though there are also some slight variations in the color of the smoke and the sky.
Does Iran’s state media use Photoshop? The charge has been leveled before. So far, though, it can’t be said with any certainty whether there is any official Iranian involvement in this instance. Sepah apparently published the three-missile version of the image today without further explanation.
For its part, Agence France-Presse retracted its four-missile version this morning, saying that the image was “apparently digitally altered” by Iranian state media. The fourth missile “has apparently been added in digital retouch to cover a grounded missile that may have failed during the test,” the agency said.
As exercises in psychological warfare go, this one may end up in the chapter on "The Dangers of Photo-Shop".
But it also illustrates an important point.
Bump into a group with a greater commitment to an agenda than to truth, and you come face to face with deception.
And it doesn't take long for most of us to have just such an encounter spiritually.
Most of us have had our day interrupted by a ring of the doorbell and a greeting from serious looking, well dressed people asking us if we would like to discuss the future of the world.
They will then make claims that their organization, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, is the only faithful source of God's truth.
In fact, they are so committed to the real message of the Bible, they even study the New Testament in the original Greek.
They will even show you their Bible with the Greek and English laid out on the same page.
Seeing is believing, right?
Until we begin to dig a bit deeper.
After they claim to study in the Greek, I will often get my Greek New Testament and ask them to read from it.
Most will try to change the subject. Some will say they can understand it, but are not able to pronounce it.
So I will set the bar a bit lower - "Can you recite the Greek alphabet?"
My Greek professor at Talbot Seminary used to hand Jehovah's Witnesses his Greek Bible upside down to see if they knew the difference.
Most did not. And this is no exception to the rule.
Take a look at the sad track record of dishonesty that has followed this organization and its leadership in this area at http://www.letusreason.org/JW39.htm
When the agenda to promote a group or a church becomes more important than truth, deception always follows.
We would do well to remember the simple, yet powerful words of I Thessalonians 5:21-22.
Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
Scott's Blog - 7/09/08
"Every Knee Shall Bow?"
Most of us who are Sunday School 101 graduates know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the fiery furnace.
How did this famous trio end up in such a situation?
Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was sixty cubits and its width six cubits. He set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon. And King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to gather together the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces, to come to the dedication of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. So the satraps, the administrators, the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all the officials of the provinces gathered together for the dedication of the image that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Then a herald cried aloud: “To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, you shall fall down and worship the gold image that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up; and whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” (Daniel 3:1-6)
It's hard to imagine living in a time when people would be coerced into abandoning their own spiritual convictions.
We are more civilized.
We are more sophisticated.
We are more sensitive.
Don't be so sure.
Schoolboys punished with detention for refusing to kneel in class and pray to Allah
Two schoolboys were given detention after refusing to kneel down and 'pray to Allah' during a religious education lesson.
Parents were outraged that the two boys from year seven (11 to 12-year-olds) were punished for not wanting to take part in the practical demonstration of how Allah is worshipped.
They said forcing their children to take part in the exercise at Alsager High School, near Stoke-on-Trent - which included wearing Muslim headgear - was a breach of their human rights.
One parent, Sharon Luinen, said: "This isn't right, it's taking things too far.
"I understand that they have to learn about other religions. I can live with that but it is taking it a step too far to be punished because they wouldn't join in Muslim prayer.
"Making them pray to Allah, who isn't who they worship, is wrong and what got me is that they were told they were being disrespectful.
"I don't want this to look as if I have a problem with the school because I am generally very happy with it."
Another parent Karen Williams said: "I am absolutely furious my daughter was made to take part in it and I don't find it acceptable.
"I haven't got a problem with them teaching my child other religions and a small amount of information doesn't do any harm.
"But not only did they have to pray, the teacher had gone into the class and made them watch a short film and then said 'we are now going out to pray to Allah'.
"Then two boys got detention and all the other children missed their refreshment break because of the teacher.
"Not only was it forced upon them, my daughter was told off for not doing it right.
"They'd never done it before and they were supposed to do it in another language."
"My child has been forced to pray to Allah in a school lesson." The grandfather of one of the pupils in the class said: "It's absolutely disgusting, there's no other way of putting it.
"My daughter and a lot of other mothers are furious about their children being made to kneel on the floor and pray to Islam. If they didn't do it they were given detention." http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1031784/Schoolboys-punished-detention-refusing-kneel-pray-Allah.html
Just a harmless classroom exercise, perhaps taken a bit too far?
Not when we ask two key questions.
How would this exercise be seen by Muslims?
The final stage of formal conversion to Islam is - guess what? Donning traditional Muslim head gear, bowing on a prayer carpet and praying to Allah.
How would Muslims react if the tables had been turned?
What if, in the name of diversity, Muslim students were pressured to confess that Jesus is the Son of God and partake of communion?
Trust me, the same tolerant crew that showed such restraint in the Mohammed cartoon controversy would put on quite a show.
It might even start a war.
The moral of this sad story? Only two out of the entire class had enough conviction to refuse to take part in this exercise in intolerance.
And for them the consequences were "being told off" or getting detention.
What if the consequences were more significant, even life threatening?
Oh, I know it is hard to imagine such a thing happening in our day and age. But then again, I would have had a hard time imagining this could happen even five years ago.
Where would you draw the line on your spiritual convictions?
What level of consequence would you be willing to face for your faith in Christ?
Perhaps we need a refresher course from Sunday School 101.
How did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego respond to their call to coerced conversion?
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
May our love and faith of Jesus become strong enough to stand when everyone else is calling us to bow down.
Scott's Blog - 7/08/08
Inside the Mind of a Mad Mullah
What do they want? Why can't we reason with them? Won't diplomacy and international pressure bring them back into line?
The more we hear of the imminent possibility of Iran developing their own nuclear weapons capability, the more these questions are being asked.
The real answers to these questions cannot be found in the secular playbook of the State Department. They can only be found by examining the dark and dangerous doctrine that has captured the hearts and minds of the leadership of Iran.
Consider this eye opening dispatch published on the Pajamas Media blog site today.
Former CIA Agent in Iran Comes In from the Heat
Going public for the first time in an article and interview on Pajamas Media, an Iranian who infiltrated Iran's Revolutionary Guard for the CIA accuses the mullahs of orchestrating — among other things — the 1988 explosion of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland
The rulers in Iran believe it is their duty to prepare the circumstances for the reappearance of the 12th Imam. “Our Revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi,” Ahmadinejad said during a speech in 2005 to leaders from across the country. Shiites believe the reappearance of the 12th Imam will bring justice and peace to the world by establishing Islam throughout the world. They believe he will reappear when the world has fallen into chaos. It is believed the chaos will start in Afghanistan and then move into Iraq, where there will be blood and destruction everywhere (already in the works) and from there to the world with burning dark clouds (nuclear war). The 12th Imam will then come to destroy the “Dajjal,” the False Messiah, free the world from oppression and aggression, and then bring justice where it will be heaven on earth for many years to come. It is said Jesus will reappear at the same time and fight alongside Mahdi.
Members of the Iranian leadership say they have a “signed contract” with the 12th Imam and are doggedly pursuing nuclear weapons to bring on that catastrophe. Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad, has said that Israel must be destroyed (2005 “World without Zionism” speech, “Israel must be wiped off the map”). This is no idle threat.
If the mullahs’ true intention is to provide electricity through nuclear energy for the Iranians (which they claim) — the same Iranians whose women, students, teachers, writers and union workers are being flogged, beaten, tortured and stoned to death, the same Iranians who are denied a free election or freedom of speech — then why wouldn’t they accept the comprehensive incentive package offered by the world leaders in full, scrap the enrichment process, and bring peace and prosperity to their nation?
The reason is that their belief in Islam’s conquest of the world through the coming of the 12th Imam mandates their actions, and — just as a suicide bomber — they are not even interested in their own survival and cannot be diverted from their chosen path. The question is: Can the world afford to sit idly by and wait for Armageddon? http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/former-cia-agent-in-iran-comes-in-from-the-heat/2/
Stunning? Sobering? Down right scary?
You had better believe it.
But also quite revealing.
If you are a regular reader of this space, you know the eerie alignment of this false doctrine with end times prophecy. The opposition to the "Dajjal" and hatred of Israel may very well be the impetus for Iran's prominent role in the Last Days invasion of Israel described in Ezekiel 38-39.
But did you also catch the insight into the spiritual climate in our own country?
We have been sold the idea that it really doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.
Underpinning that seemingly warm sentiment is an overwhelmingly secularized mind set.
Spiritual convictions are nice we are told, but ultimately irrelevant in real life.
"Go to church, if you wish, but leave the real world to us.", say the secularists.
And so these representatives of the so-called "real world" attempt to diffuse the terrifying problem of a radicalized Islamic regime with the same old carrot and stick.
Let's talk. Let's have summits. Let's get our allies to cut off supplies. Let's send ships into the Gulf. Let's sabre rattle a bit.
And the response of a government with apocalyptic delusions of grandeur, and a suicide bomber's level of commitment to see it happen?
Smile and nod and sneer at the infidels as soon as they leave the room.
And get the North Koreans back on the phone.
The harsh lesson we are being taught is this - There is nothing more "real" than spiritual conviction.
What we believe really does matter.
And there is real truth. And real error.
There is a true and living God Who invites us to freedom and life.
And a false and hellish deception that brings only oppression and death.
Jesus put it this way.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Scott's Blog - 7/07/08
The Rock That Doesn't Roll You
The stone tablet and its owner, David Jeselsohn
Have you ever read a headline that really grabbed your attention, only to find the article just didn't live up to the hype?
Try this one on for size.
What's this? Now they claim a resurrection before Jesus
'Christians will find it shocking - a challenge to their theology'
A stone tablet written in Hebrew is generating debate as some scholars are saying its words point to a suffering messiah who was killed and rose again three days later decades before Jesus of Nazareth.
Daniel Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic culture at the at Berkeley told The International Herald Tribune, "Some Christians will find it shocking – a challenge to the uniqueness of their theology – while others will be comforted by the idea of it being a traditional part of Judaism."
The tablet itself, about three feet tall and containing 87 lines of Hebrew in two neat columns, is a rare find because its words are written in ink, rather than engraved. Experts who have analyzed the writing date the stone from the late first century B.C., and a chemical examination conducted by a professor at Tel Aviv University showed no reason to doubt the date.
The content of the writing, however, remains much in doubt, as evidenced by a handful of articles on the stone and several due to be published in coming months. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=68924
I have to confess that whenever I see an article about a "revolutionary discovery" concerning Jesus, my first reaction is to sigh and roll my eyes.
Call it "DaVinci Code-itis".
Remember when Dan Brown, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and Gandalf the Grey told us that Jesus was married, Mary Magdalene was the Holy Grail, and that Constantine edited out the true message of Christ (that God was to be worshipped by having 70's style orgies)?
They only lacked one minor ingredient in their spiritual soufflé - facts.
The hype charged claims concerning this discovery run in similar circles.
Although the point is still being debated by experts, let's grant that this artifact offers proof that the notion of a messiah rising again from the dead was a well accepted part of Judaism prior to the resurrection of Jesus.
What part of the message of Jesus would this "challenge"?
It certainly wouldn't challenge the message the Old Testament gives us concerning the Messiah.
They made His grave with the wicked—
It certainly wouldn't change the content of Jesus' own message to His critics.
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying,
“Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
It certainly wouldn't change the message Jesus drove home to His own confused disciples.
Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a
village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And
they talked together of all these things which had happened. So
it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself
drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so
that they did not know Him.
The Road to Emmaus incident is especially interesting in this light.
Jesus seems incredulous that these disciples didn't understand that Messiah had to die and be raised from the dead. It's as if He is saying to them, "Where were you during Sunday School? This is basic!"
So what does this stone tablet have to say to Bible believing Christians?
Aside from the fact that others around the time of Christ had seen the same basic message about messiah in their own personal Bible study and tried to apply it to their own spiritual leaders.
It does however, point out a very important contrast.
The tablet, called "Gabriel's Revelation," is broken and faded, making much of its content debatable. The words tell of a vision, supposedly given by the angel Gabriel, of the apocalypse.
Lines 19 through 21 of the tablet contain words, which translated read: "In three days you will know that evil will be defeated by justice."
Line 80 of the tablet begins with the words "L'shloshet yamin," meaning "in three days," but then fades. Some scholars see the next word as illegible, but Israel Knohl, a professor of Bible studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says the word is Hebrew for "live," followed by even more difficult-to-read words that he claims complete a command meaning, "In three days you shall live, I, Gabriel, command you."
Knohl told the Tribune that he interprets the tablet to tell of a messianic figure named Simon, whose death was recorded by the Jewish historian Josephus. The tablet, Knohl contends, was likely written by Simon's followers and demonstrates that messianic followers even before Jesus looked to their leaders rising again, thus nullifying the frequent claim that Jesus' resurrection was a uniquely developed story. http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=68924
I could not agree more that the resurrection of Jesus was not "a uniquely developed story".
As Paul put it,
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)
And since the message of Messiah suffering and rising again is so thoroughly woven through the Old Testament it stands to reason that others would try to apply it to their own leaders.
But don't miss the most important point.
The followers of this fellow named Simon might have thought he was going to rise from the dead. He did not.
The followers of Jesus didn't anticipate Him rising from the dead. He did.
Faith in the resurrection is not based on incomplete etchings found on a stone tablet.
It is based on the immovable rock of God's Word.
Scott's Blog - 7/03/08
There is an old Scottish proverb that declares, "He who has a happy wife, has a happy life."
There are few areas of life that can bring us to the heights of fulfillment and joy, or plunge us to the depths of personal despair more dramatically than the condition of our marriages.
Would you like to radically increase the chances of enjoying the best of marital bliss?
Three words -
Get to church.
A fascinating study was recently released by the University of Virginia that shows a direct correlation between church involvement and relational success.
Church Attendance Key to Marriage Success, Researcher Says
By Joshua Goldberg
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Jul. 03 2008 09:37 AM EDT
Married couples who attend church services frequently are happier and more likely to succeed in their marriages than those who don’t attend church often or not at all, according to a recent study.
“[R]esearch suggests that not only do churchgoing husbands enjoy happier marriages but also that their wives are more likely to experience marital happiness, compared to married couples where husbands do not attend religious services on a regular basis,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia, explaining his research results.
According to the study, 70 percent of husbands who attend church regularly say they are “very happy” in their marriages, compared to only 59 percent of husbands who do not attend religious services. For women, the figures were similar, with a majority of those who attend church services reporting to be happier than those who do not.
"Churches supply moral norms like sexual fidelity and forgiveness, family-friendly social networks that lend support to couples facing the ordinary joys and challenges of married life, and a faith that helps couples make sense of the difficulties in their lives-from unemployment to illness-that can harm their marriages,” Wilcox told Cybercast News Service.
While critics say that the survey is inaccurate and only proves that couples who already enjoy stable marriages attend church, Wilcox said that the power of faith and its role in marital relationships cannot be diminished.
"Men and women who hold a religious faith and put that faith into practice by attending church on a regular basis do look different in the marital realm," Wilcox said.
"So, in a word, the couple that prays together stays together," he added. http://www.christianpost.com/article/20080703/church-attendance-key-to-marriage-success-researcher-says.htm
As a pastor, I had to laugh at the criticism that the survey "only proves that couples who already enjoy stable marriages attend church".
These critics need to get out more often.
It doesn't take long in pastoral ministry to realize that the church is not a hall of fame for holy people, but a hospital for the hurting.
What God desires is that a gathering of believers be a safe place for people to be real with one another.
And the more real we get, the more we discover that behind the Sunday-go-to meeting facades that people present when they walk through the doors, are a host of genuine struggles.
I believe the reason we see higher levels of satisfaction in marriages inside the church is that those who attend not only can avail themselves of counsel, relationship strengthening resources, and even retreats that can bless and enhance personal intimacy, but even more importantly learn how to do something you will never find in our secularized society:
To receive and relate the very love of God.
King Solomon made a fascinating observation concerning the source of strength in any relationship.
Two are better than one,
Stop and consider that last line.
God desires that our marriage relationships follow that threefold chord model.
And the One true God Whose overflowing love can bind the two together.
I have come to believe that those who truly enjoy marriage make it their highest priority to daily receive a renewed experience of God's amazing love personally.
They then take that same self sacrificing love and share it with their spouse.
When we experience that amazing, unconditional love flowing through one another, you can't help but enjoy the arrangement.
The love of God makes the highs that much higher. It gives us strength and durability to get through the low spots. It provides forgiveness when we let each other down. It gives us a glimpse of the joys of heaven itself.
The prophet Amos once asked, "How can two walk together unless they be agreed?"(Amos 3:3)
When a couple finds themselves united by a shared love of God, a shared commitment to His Word, and a shared desire to live each day as an opportunity to draw close to Him and each other, real happiness follows in the wake!
Scott's Blog - 7/02/08
It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
We seem to live in an era that epitomizes the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."
So much so that the Associated Press recently ran the following tribute to hysteria.
Everything seemingly is spinning out of control
WASHINGTON -Is everything spinning out of control? Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.
"It is pretty scary," said Charles Truxal, 64, a retired corporate manager in Rochester, Minn. "People are thinking things are going to get better, and they haven't been. And then you go hide in your basement because tornadoes are coming through. If you think about things, you have very little power to make it change."
Recent natural disasters around the world dwarf anything afflicting the U.S. Consider that more than 69,000 people died in the China earthquake, and that 78,000 were killed and 56,000 missing from the Myanmar cyclone.
Americans need do no more than check the weather, look in their wallets or turn on the news for their daily reality check on a world gone haywire.
Floods engulf Midwestern river towns. Is it, the gradual degradation of a planet's weather that man seems powerless to stop or just a freakish late-spring deluge?
It hardly matters to those in the path. Just ask the people of New Orleans who survived . They are living in a city where, 1,000 days after the storm, entire neighborhoods remain abandoned, a national embarrassment that evokes disbelief from visitors. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080621/ap_on_re_us/out_of_control
The article goes on to list a litany of reasons for hand wringing and despair.
If this keeps up the AP may get sued for unfair competition by put guys with the "The World Is Coming To An End" sandwich signs.
Bad stuff seemingly abounds in this world. Thirty minutes with the national news is enough to make you consider the merits of a Prozac diet.
Which makes the claims of another article, written within a few days of this tribute to gloom and doom seem a bit confusing.
Denmark leads the way in an increasingly happy world, according to University of Michigan researchers
The world is becoming a happier place.
At least, that's the conclusion of University of Michigan researchers who are studying the results of an ongoing survey of happiness taken by people in dozens of countries.
Contrary to the saying that money can't buy happiness, the people of rich countries tend to be happier than those of poor countries. Improving economies is an important factor in the happiness index rising in an overwhelming majority of countries that have been surveyed from 1981 to 2007, researchers say.
Out of 97 countries surveyed, Denmark is the happiest nation on Earth. Zimbabwe is the unhappiest. The United States ranked as 16th happiest. Canada came in at the ninth happiest.
Countries such as China and India have experienced unprecedented economic growth, and their populations are happier as a result, according to the survey data.
Given the turmoil in parts of the world, the results seem surprising, said Deborah Wilson, 63, as she picked out a plant for her garden at a downtown Ann Arbor store Tuesday. It would seem that happiness from economic gains in some countries would be counterbalanced, she said, "because when you think of all the places where there are wars and famines." http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/07/denmark_leads_the_way_in_an_in.html
If we take the results of these two articles and combine them together, the inescapable conclusion is this - In the words of the 80's pop band REM, "It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."
What to make of all this?
It is possible that what these articles really reveal has less to do with understanding the condition of the world, and more with our confused ideas about the meaning of happiness.
What does it mean to be happy?
Usually we associate happiness with a feeling.
If my endorphins are amped up from a good run, my blood sugar in a good range because I've been eating right, my allergies have been kept at bay, my bank book balances, the people who matter most appreciate me for the wonderful person I am, and that little boost of caffine is just hitting my system, I am "happy".
How interesting that Jesus looked at happiness in a far different light.
In His most famous message, the Sermon On the Mount, Jesus began by defining what it meant to be happy from heaven's point of view.And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him. Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
“ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:1-11)
The word translated "blessed" is the Greek term "makarios". It means to be supremely and totally happy. It drew it's roots from the stories of a mythical island by that name where every need was abundantly met.
What Jesus is teaching us here is that such supreme and total happiness is possible, but from a decidedly different source than we might expect.
We tend to believe that happiness is circumstantial and experiential. In the words of the musical "Oklahoma!"
"Oh, what a beautiful morning!
Oh, what a beautiful day!
And I've got a beautiful feeling, everything's going my way."
But Jesus traces the real source of happiness to a deeper level. Real happiness is to be found in the aftermath of a life changing relationship with God.
God is the One Who created us with the gift of emotion. And this most desired emotion can only be found when we are in right relationship with the One Who made us.
As CS Lewis once put it, "God cannot give us a happiness apart from Himself because it does not exist. There is no such thing."
This heavenly happiness is not effected by circumstances, changing conditions, or whether the dog next door allowed me to get all eight hours of sleep the night before.
It is a happiness that takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
And here's the best part - the experience of this kind of happiness is merely a preview of coming attractions.You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
Are you struggling with circumstances and confusion in your search for real happiness?
Ask the Author to give you the real deal today.
Scott's Blog - 7/01/08
A Nuclear Showdown
Probably the three most frightening words one can put together in a row, aren't they?
If you are a part of the baby boom generation, you can recall the days of bomb shelters, air raid siren tests and "duck and cover" drills in the classroom as the United States and the Soviet Union played the game of atomic brinksmanship.
The stakes? Only the future of the human race.
But times changed. The Soviet Union collapsed. The Berlin Wall came down.
The world breathed a sigh of relief.
For a moment, anyway.
The club of nations with nuclear weapons, once small enough to count on two hands, saw some dangerous new members come on board.
Word spread that A.Q. Khan, the so called "father of the Islamic bomb" in Pakistan was selling his expertise to the highest bidder.
Certifiable nut cases like Kim Jong Il of North Korea rejoiced as their nuclear capabilities were demonstrated to the world.
And now, Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad of Iran, a man whose greatest passion is to see the Moslem Messiah (the so called Twelveth Mahdi) come on the scene in the midst of a prophesized world war, may be even months away from possessing the means to acheive his stated goal of "wiping Israel off the map".
Don't count on Israel taking this development lying down.
Pentagon Official Warns of Israeli Attack on Iran
U.S. Official Sees Two 'Red Lines' That Could Prompt Strike
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, was in Israel over the weekend for a series of meetings with senior Israeli military officials, including, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the chief of staff of the Israeli Defense Forces. According to a military spokesman, Iran's nuclear program was "a major topic" of discussion.
The widely held view among Pentagon officials is that an Israeli attack would do only temporary damage to Iran's nuclear program, and that it would cause major problems in the region and beyond, prompting a wave of attacks on U.S. interests in Iraq, the Persian Gulf and elsewhere.
As another senior defense official put it, "We'd be guilty by association." http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/US/Story?id=5281043&page=1
The so called "two red lines" are the ability of the Iranians to produce enough enriched plutonium to construct a bomb, and the installation of a sophisticated Russian built air defense system to protect the reactor sites where the bomb material is produced.
We might add a third. The Israelis also may be motivated to move prior to the changing of presidential administrations here in the U.S.
Suffice it to say, the clock is ticking.
What are the prophetic implications of this return to the brink of nuclear war?
First, a strike of this kind would be in keeping with the supporting role that Persia (modern Iran) occupies in the predicted end times invasion of Israel by the coalition of nations led by modern Russia.
Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you. (Ezekiel 38:1-6)
The defanging of Iran as the lead player in the conflict with Israel would not take away their passion to see Israel destroyed, but it would relegate them to the participant status we see in this passage.
Second, a retaliatory move by Iran to strike back at Israel and the United States through military and terrorist means would have seismic consequences for the stability and economic prosperity of the entire world. Very few people on this planet would not be radically effected by $500 a barrel oil. Even radical solutions would be welcomed if they could ensure that such a crisis would not happen again. Such an upheaval may set the stage for the predicted "strong covenant with many nations" the Antichrist will conclude with Israel and her neighbors. (Daniel 9:27)
Third, this development is in complete harmony with Jesus' prediction that among other signs, "wars and rumors of war" would increase in both frequency and intensity as the time of His return would draw near. Like the labor pains of a woman in labor, we seem to be on the edge of a major contraction.
So how do we respond to events like these?
The wise student of biblical prophecy will not only keep an eye on these events, but also pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), and make a growing relationship with the Lord that touches the lives of others with His love a top priority.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)