A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


November 23, 2014

Ezekiel 34:17

And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between the rams and the great he-goats [the malicious and the tyrants of the pasture].



     As always with Scripture, we must be careful to approach it within the larger context of a passage or Chapter.  Today, we consider Ezekiel, Chapter 34.  Ezekiel, as God's prophet, has been told to prophecy against the shepherds of Israel -- even to the Spiritual shepherds.  These "shepherds" are the kings, judges and rabbis of the nation of Israel.  And through Ezekiel, the Lord God asks the important question, "Should not the shepherds feed the sheep?"
     In other words, these leaders of the nation of Israel have been given a great responsibility by the Lord to watch over His people.  But God brings a severe condemnation against them.  These leaders, rather than guard and protect the people, and leading them to prosperity, have, instead, fattened themselves.  God comes against them with several accusations:  those who were weak or sick were not helped; those that were handicapped by life's struggles were not encouraged; and the civil leaders of the nation did nothing to lift them up.
     These allegations extended to the religious leaders as well:  those that strayed from the faith, or whom have not been taught the faith at all, have not been sought and corrected.  In fact, all leaders fall under a blanket charge of negligence and dereliction of duty.  Indeed, they have not tended to "their flock" with the care and encouragement that God desired.  Instead, they have seen to their own selfish needs, and dealt with the people by force and hardened hearts.
     So, God says He will take care of His flock Himself.  He will gather them and feed them, Himself, causing them to "lie down".  This is a very important piece of information, regarding God's "flock".  It is significant to understand four things about sheep:  1)  they refuse to lie down unless they are free of all fear; 2)  they will not lie down unless they are free of friction with others of their kind;  3)  they will only lie down when they can relax and be free of pests;  4)  they will not lie down as long as they are hungry and in need of food.  So God says HE will meet all these needs of His flock, and will feed the leaders both judgment and punishment. 
     But He is not through!  God also has a word for the sheep, themselves!  In our chosen Scripture, He clearly states that He is addressing the sheep, as well as the leaders (Rams and He-Goats).  There are those within the flock, itself, that have not done their duty.  He is talking to those that belong to Him who have prospered and are comfortable in their favored position.  He wants them to understand that this does not alleviate their compassion or acts of charity towards other members who are less fortunate.  "Belonging to the flock", does not mean you that you're home free, with no responsibility towards others.
     Just a few verses later, God declares, "I Myself, will judge between fat sheep and impoverished sheep, or fat goats and lean goats ... Therefore will I rescue My flock, and they shall no more be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep."  God means to rescue the nation of Israel, not only from the world, but from themselves.
     How does this apply to us?  Will not we, as the Gentile nations, also be judged?  Won't our judges and kings and presidents be held accountable as to how they treated God's people?  Furthermore, what does this Chapter and passage say to us Christians?  We are also part of God's "flock".  And when He says He will "judge between sheep and sheep", what do you think that means for us?
     Might it mean that just being called "Christian" isn't enough to escape judgment? Our Christian lives -- how we served God, and how we encouraged (and aided) others of the faith -- will be scrutinized.  We must never think of ourselves as above reproach or reprimand.  And notice that He is talking to the "sheep"; not the shepherds here.  
     God knows that our Pastors have enough to answer to Him for not feeding His sheep.  But what have we sheep done for the flock?  Have we endeavored to encourage those new to the faith, so that they will have no fear when it comes to declaring their faith? Have we made sure that we are not causing friction within the Body of Christ?  Have we been diligent about keeping "pests" out of the Church; those who seek to introduce destructive doctrines to the flock?  And lastly, have we truly "fed" fellow members of the flock; or have we simply slapped the label of "Christian" on them and left them starving for the Word?  
     God wants his sheep to feel safe and secure enough to "lie down".  It is our duty -- and should be our privilege -- to provide these services, not only in obedience and praise to our God; but in loving support of the flock.  It is incumbent upon each of us to ask how He will judge our ministry to His flock.   
     


November 22, 2014

The Danger of the Pendulum Swing

     I will probably be castigated for my opinion on this subject, but I cannot sit idly by and watch the Church, which belongs to Jesus Christ, become deceived by a "new paradigm" of how His Body is to conduct itself.
     Like me, many of the faithful have come to know God as much bigger and more Sovereign than He has been represented in the Modern Church.  We have turned to the Bible for our knowledge of Him and His precepts and commandments, rather than rely on denominational rituals and creeds.  We long to know Him and His Son more deeply and more truthfully.  We have immersed ourselves in His Word and seek to fulfill our purpose for His Kingdom.
     In that vein, we have left "lukewarm" Churches and have either formed our own home churches, (in the manner of the early believers in the Faith); or have sought Churches that encourage a more spiritual and personal relationship with God.  And that's why I am warning you to be aware.
      Be careful, because all may not be what it seems.  I know many who were not being fed Biblical knowledge, and in their pursuit of a closer walk with God, they left dried-up, denominational Churches for what appear to be more vibrant, "alive" Churches that purport to be seeking a greater knowledge of God.  The pendulum may be swinging towards an enthusiastic, contemporary Church body, but that doesn't mean it is authentic.
     Case in point:  Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church in California, has long been a proponent of "Change" in the Church.  He transitioned his successful book The Purpose Driven Life into a program he calls The Purpose Driven Church.  Along with associates who are eager adherents to the Emerging Church Movement, he has made a name for himself through his advice for churches who have "hit a plateau".  In case, you are unfamiliar with exactly what the Emerging Church is, here's a simple description:  Emerging Churches seek to reach the lost (or dissatisfied) by focusing on relationships and developing a "story," a "journey of life," that is expressed through the "narrative" of learning.  Sadly, the focus is usually on learning about oneself, than about gaining knowledge of our Creator.  Simply put, the Emerging Church teaches a doctrine that Religion Saves, not Christ.
     You can see how this more "personal" agenda might appeal to those who have never heard of Jesus's Saving Grace, or to those who are hungry for a warmer, more dynamic approach to worship.  But that is where the Devil is hidden in the details!  Escaping a lukewarm Church for one that is empty of the true Majesty of God is just a swing of the pendulum, and brings you no closer to a greater understanding of Jehovah.  Just take a look at Warren's Saddleback Church website -- you will be overwhelmed with all the ministry opportunities and programs in which to immerse yourself.  But where is a Mission Statement about the Core Beliefs of this Church?  It doesn't seem to be about God at all!
     So, in case you're wondering if you might have traded one false Church for another, here are some warning signs to be cognizant of; a change in format could be leading to a change in the Truth that's being preached:
•  Change in music to a contemporary rock style.
•  Removal of hymn books; eliminating the choir.
•  Replacement of organ and piano with heavy metal instruments.
•  Repetitive singing of praise lyrics.
•  Dressing down to casual and informal attire.
•  Eliminating of business meetings, church committees, council of elders, board of deacons, etc.
•  The pastor, or a new leader with a few assistants, usually four, takes charge of all church business.
•  A repetitive 40-day Purpose Driven Church study program stressing psychological relationships with each other, the community, or the world, begins.
•  Funded budgeted programs are abandoned, or ignored, with ambiguous financial reports made.
•  Sunday morning, evening, and/or Wednesday prayer meetings are changed to other times; some may even be eliminated.
•  Sunday School teachers are moved to different classes, or replaced by new teachers more sympathetic with the changes being implemented.
•  The name “Sunday School” is dropped and classes are given new names.
•  Crosses and other traditional Christian symbols may be removed from both the inside and outside of the church buildings. The pulpit may also be removed.
•  In accordance with Dr. Warren’s instructions, new version Bibles are used; or only verses flashed on a screen are referenced during regular services.
•  Purpose Driven Church films, purchased from Saddleback, precede or are used during regular services.
•  The decor, including the carpets, may be changed to eliminate any resemblance to the former church.
•  The word “church” is often taken from the name of the church, and the church may be called a “campus”. Denominational names may also be removed.
•  An emphasis on more fun and party sessions for the youth.
•  Elimination of altar calls or salvation invitations at the close of the services.
•  The elimination of such words as “unsaved”, “lost”, “sin”, “Hell”, “Heaven” and other Gospel verities from the pastor’s messages.
•  The reclassification of the saved and lost to the “churched” and the “unchurched”.
•  The marginalizing, or ostracizing, of all who are not avid promoters of the new Purpose Driven Program.
•  Closed meetings between the pastor or chosen staff members without any reports made to the general membership.
•  Open hostility to members who do not openly embrace the new program, or who may have left for another church.
     I simply want to ask you a few questions... Have the old, "Biblical" hymns been replaced by songs using the cultural vernacular?  And do the lyrics tell you anything of God's Character, or are they all about you?  Do you have a Coffee Bar or Lounge to attract younger church members?  Is God spoken of in these casual settings, or is it all about getting acquainted with each other?  As a Church Body, do you invite members or visitors to "give their life to Christ", or do you tell them to live the best life they can?  Does your Pastor believe there is a Hell or Judgment due mankind; or do you only hear about the Love and Grace of God?  How many of these bulleted points describe the format of your Church?  Do any of these contribute to a more holy and reverent understanding of God?  And finally, how many Lost has your Church brought into the Kingdom of God?  I'm not talking about how much your membership roll has grown -- I want to know if you have been instructed and encouraged to speak to the Lost and tell them of Christ's sacrifice for them.  Could it be that you are simply beguiling those who are comfortable in their faith?
     These are really important times for Christ's Church.  We have a job to do, and I sense that our time is running out to accomplish our purpose.  Instead of looking for the finish line and running as hard as we can towards Victory, we seem to be either stuck in slow motion, looking backwards; or looking at ourselves in the mirror and congratulating ourselves on OUR relevancy.  Neither description fulfills our commission as the Body of Christ.  We must escape the routine and mechanical operation of the apathetic Church, while guarding against the dangers of the "new spirituality" found in the false Emerging Church.  Right now, we are not resembling the Bride of Christ.  We cannot be too vigilant! 

2 Timothy 3:1-5    "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves ... haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!"
     

November 21, 2014

Is Chrislam The One World Religion?


     Whether you believe in the Bible and its End Times prophecies or not, you must admit that Christianity and Islam make for strange bedfellows.  Yet, that is exactly what three different events that I am about to reveal seem to project.  Chrislam is the blending of the Christian/Judeo faith with the tenets of Islam, and you might want to investigate what the Good Book has to say about this false religion, and how it will affect the world.  It's all there in the Book of Revelation; Chapter 17 to be exact.
     Specifically, it is described as a "harlot", which scholars often use to describe a false religion.  But more specifically, this false religion is depicted as dominating all the “peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues” of the earth; as well as having great influence among the world’s rulers and influential people, who become "drunk" on her false promises.  Furthermore, these leaders are accused of committing adultery with the harlot, showing that she lures them away from their faith in the true God.
     So, what does all this have to do with Chrislam?  Keep in mind the descriptions I've just given you, and let me relate the following events.  First, Pope Francis is hosting a global ecumenical conference at the Vatican this week.  (Remember, the meaning of "ecumenical" is universal; all-embracing; and all-inclusive).  In attendance will be representatives of all the major religions of the world; including the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Jaina Shasana, Taoist and Sikh religions.  Now, of course, this all appears to be "on the up and up", as the conference is centered on marriage between a man and woman, and the revitalization of the family for the good of society.
     But when the conference is sponsored and promoted by the Pope and the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, and features speakers such as Rick Warren, who has been quoted as stating that "Muslims and Christians believe that God is one", it casts serious doubt as to the real purpose of this event.
     Secondly, this past summer Pope Francis worked with a German art historian to share Islamic works of art from the Vatican's Ethnological Museum with a museum in Sharjah, one of the emirates of the United Arab Emirates.  The artworks on display stem from the 12th to the 19th century, but also include valuable objects from everyday life in the Arab world, all owned by the Vatican.  Most of the objects had arrived in the Vatican in 1925 when Pope Pius XI hosted a kind of international cultural exhibition comprised of gifts presented to him from private donors and missionaries stationed all around the world.  After the exhibition, the collection needed a permanent home, and the Vatican established its Ethnological Museum.
     The sharing of the Vatican's artwork is being hailed as "an act of diplomacy" by Pope Francis, who prefers to be more open and accepting of other religions, unlike his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who had distanced himself from other faiths.  This Pope sees himself as a "unifier" and advocates for the role of culture in religious, social and moral matters.  In fact, the exhibit is being promoted as  "the first collaboration of the Vatican with an Arab country", and furthering the "dialogue between Christians and Muslims."  Fittingly, the title of the exhibition is "So that you may know each other", which is actually a verse from the Koran in response to the question of why people are so different.  You can decide for yourself if this is just good PR, or if this is foretelling a deeper motive.
     Finally, did you know that Berlin will be the home of a temple where Muslims, Jews and Christians will worship together?  It will be called the House of One, and each faith will meet in separate "compartments" (a synagogue, a church, and a mosque), and then converge to worship together as they find "common ground".  Can it be anymore clear that a hybrid religion is in the works?  And I find myself asking why leaders of the Jewish faith would agree to be involved in such a project in the very city from which Hitler's design for their distinction was born?  Are they just "drunk" on the false promises of a One World Religion?  And could this be viewed as another sign, or signal, to the Islamic world that they are dominating the world's religions?  I don't know what is motivating these religious leaders, but a Temple of Chrislam is not the answer.
     I realize that not everyone sees these events through the same Biblical lens that I do.  But it is my solemn wish that people would consider what the Bible reveals about this End Times religion.  I cannot say for sure that Chrislam fits the bill, but it sure is headed in that direction.  The Bible prophecys that this One World religious system will be used by the AntiChrist, at least at first, to entice and attract the world to her uniting promises.  It will be an instrument of his deception to gain the world's adoration.  But when she becomes drunk on her own power, and has fulfilled her purpose of forcing everyone to bow down at her counterfeit altar, the AntiChrist will turn on this false religion and usurp her power for himself; establishing himself as God.  The deception by both the Harlot (a tempting One World Religion) and the Anti-Christ will be so great, that even Christians should fear falling for it.
     So, I mention these events and show their connectivity to encourage you to be aware and to stand strong in your faith.  Deception is rampant in our world today.  Nothing is as it seems.  But we must guard ourselves against the deceit and lies that will fool the world.  The time is short until Evil reveals its true self, and we must all declare our trust in Jesus and the Father.  Our eternal lives depend on it!

Revelation 17:4   "And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication..."
     

November 20, 2014

Bacchus, Dionysus & The Zombie Apocalypse: Satan's Bloodthirsty Rerun

     Have you ever wondered where the Zombie phenomenon came from?  How did it suddenly take over our culture, imagination and conscience?  And could it possibly be intertwined with an age-old deception and strategy?  Sure, it had a brief rise in popularity during the 1970's in The Night of the Living Dead movie genre.  But, we are now at the point where even the CDC and the Pentagon offer ways to protect yourself from "the Zombie Apocalypse".
     Well, it seems that this ghoulish sensation isn't such a new occurrence after all; and may not be as fictional as you think.  As with every evil personification in history, you can find demonic involvement.  You may be surprised to find out that your average zombie shares the same characteristics with the ancient worship of the God of wine, abandon, and revelry, known as Bacchus, or Dionysus, in the Greek.  For the purpose of this discussion, we will use his Greek name.
     So, by all mythological accounts, Dionysus just sounds like he was a party hound deluxe.  But there's more to him than just being the champion of "a good time".  According to Greek mythology, he is seen as "the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and thus symbolizes everything which is chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods." (Wikipedia)   But that's not all.  Those who partake of his mysteries are possessed and empowered by the god himself.  His cult is also a "cult of the souls"; his female followers feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead.  Starting to get a picture of who this "god" might be?  Well, let me take you a little farther.
     In 410 B.C., the Greek dramatist, Euripides, proclaimed the greatness of Dionysus in his play The Bacchantes (who were members of a religious cult that swept over Greece in the 600s BC, a period of social and political upheaval).  Euripides portrayed Dionysus as having "put off the god and taken human shape".  In the play, Dionysus boasts that he has fallen to earth, sent by "the one who will loose me" to do his evil work.
     The play accurately depicted the real-life followers of Dionysus, who had no love for moral guidelines or laws of the conventional world.  Dionysus had been sent to help them gain a spiritual state of ecstasy through their rituals.  And just what were those acts of worship? On the conservative side, women migrated in frenzied hillside groups, dressed in fawn skins accompanied by screaming, music, dancing, and licentious behavior.  But that didn't satisfy their lust for "anything goes".  In fact, any creature that dared to resist or flee their perverse rituals was often subjected to sparagmos (tearing apart) and omophagia (consumed raw).  This lifestyle was so rampant and so depraved, that it was eventually outlawed by the Greeks and Romans.  Beginning to see a resemblance to Zombies, now?
     While you may think this ancient cult wished to possess the soul of the one consumed, the goal was actually more demonic.  They really sought to capture the essence of Dionysus and bring him through a portal of incarnated rage within humans.  It is not surprising, that the Hebrews of that age believed demonic possession was actually a result of the rituals of these followers of Dionysus.  And apparently something called a kestatot (magic band) was used to capture the souls of people by magic.  Even the prophet Ezekiel warns against them:  And say, Thus says the Lord God: Woe to the women who sew pillows to all armholes and fasten magic, protective charms to all wrists, and deceptive veils upon the heads of those of every stature to hunt and capture human lives! Will you snare the lives of My people to keep your own selves alive? (Ezekiel 13:18; Amplified Bible).
Statue of the "Rites of Dionysus"
     To give further credence to this worship of Dionysus, the Apostle Paul (in Acts 17:34) mentions a man by that name who was delivered from this cult and came to faith in Jesus.  This is significant because to be named Dionysus either meant that his parents had been followers of the demonic god and had predestined their child to the same perversion, or that this man was under the spell of the magic arm band (kestatot).  This band had some kind of connection to a container called an orca, or kiste.  And here's more evidence that this all ties together as demonically influenced -- Wherever a kiste is inscribed on sarcophagi or on Bacchic scenes, it is depicted as a sacred vessel or soul-prison with a snake peering through an open lid.
      But there's more to understanding Dionysus and his significance in Greek mythology.  According to Wikipedia, "the Dio-element has been associated since antiquity with Zeus" -- another name for our old friend Nimrod, a clear representative of Anti-Christ.  Furthermore, he was the son of a mortal woman and Zeus, king of the gods.  (You should recognize this as imitating the Bible's Genesis 6 account of fallen angels mating with human women).  There are a couple of different versions of the birth and death of Dionysys.  In one account, his mortal mother asks Zeus to reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his godhood.  He came to her wreathed in bolts of lightning; mortals, however, could not look upon an undisguised god without dying, and she perished in the ensuing blaze.  (Another attempt by Satan to counterfeit God's Shekinah Glory in ancient mythology). Zeus rescues the unborn Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh, and later releases the fully-grown baby from his thigh on Mount Pramnos in the Aegean Sea.
     Another version has Dionysus as the son of Zeus and Persephone, the queen of the Underworld.  Zeus's jealous wife, Hera, enlists the aid of the Greek gods, the Titans, to dismember Dionysus.  Once again Zeus saves his son by retrieving the heart and sewing it into his thigh, from whence a reborn Dionysus emerges.  Both stories present an enigmatic death and rebirth legend that came in handy to various pagan religions that reverenced the mysteries surrounding this "god".  (It also didn't hurt Satan's cause of counterfeiting Christ's death and resurrection).
    These "Dionysian Mysteries" were, in one sense, a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state.  There were elaborate (and debauched) rituals initiating people into this cult, which are too depraved to recount here.  Suffice it to say, that a partial rendition of the Invocation of Dionysus gives you a clear picture of the nature of this religious veneration:  "I call upon loud-roaring and revelling Dionysus, primeval, double-natured, thrice-born, Bacchic lord, wild, ineffable, secretive, two-horned and two-shaped. Ivy-covered, bull-faced, warlike, howling, pure, You take raw flesh, you have feasts, wrapt in foliage, decked with grape clusters...".

     By now, you should be seeing some of the similarities between this ancient Satanic cult and our modern obsession with Zombies.  There are those who will tell you that the Zombie phenomenon is fiction, and fairly new to our culture.  They are pictured as mindless, reanimated human corpses (sometimes animals) with a hunger for human flesh.  In truth, though, they are just the latest embodiment of the flesh-hungry undead, who have been a fixture of world mythology since its earliest recordings.
     One of the oldest written stories on earth (between 2750 and 2500 BC), called The Epic of Gilgamesh, records the vow of the Goddess of the Underworld, Ishtar (also known as Nimrod's wife):  I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld, I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down, and will let the dead go up to eat the living! And the dead will outnumber the living! 
     This could perfectly describe what we witness each week on the current TV blockbuster, The Walking Dead.  It is no coincidence that we are seeing this recurring theme once again in human history.  As I said earlier, George Romero's frightening 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead brought the concept of "the devouring undead" to our conscious minds.  However, he didn't refer to them as "zombies" in this first movie, but rather "ghouls"; which is actually more appropriate because in Arabic folklore and myths, ghouls are demons.  In the sequel to the movie, Dawn of the Dead, we first hear the term "zombie", which is thought to be a reflection of Voodoo resurrections of the dead in such demonically-influenced cultures as Haiti.
     Fast forward to our modern fixation on the "Zombie Apocalypse"; a breakdown of society as a result of an initial zombie outbreak from a plague/virus, which spreads and threatens to consume all of mankind. By now, it should be clear that our addiction and preoccupation with Zombies has become, perhaps, just a subconscious realization that they represent the coming of the complete, and final, destruction of the world as presented in the Book of Revelation.
     Taken all together, the mythology of Dionysus and his Mysteries, and the Zombie Apocalypse, literally comes down to the question of whether one will "be turned" to an existence that is exemplified by a rotten, putrefying soul; reanimated to devour others (demons) -- or "be saved" by receiving a true resurrected body; a new life after dying, showing the power of the One, True God and glorifying His Son, Jesus.
     Throughout the ages, Satan has attempted to influence mankind to come over to the dark side.  And he has been creative in his efforts, I will give him that.  Whether he tells his story through the lure of uninhibited revelry, the legends of mighty gods, or the seduction of a frightening apocalypse, Death is his perpetual theme, and the process of decay is ongoing.  We must not become distracted by Lucifer's intelligence and beauty.  We must be mindful to guard ourselves against the mania that takes our eyes off our only Source of True Life.
     If we belong to the Lord, we don't have to fear Satan's demonic influence in our culture.  Zombies are just the latest manifestation out of his ancient playbook.  The story never changes; he offers only death and decay -- and we know the ending!

Revelation 1:17-18   "... Do not be afraid! I am the First and the Last, and the Ever-living One [I am living in the eternity of the eternities].  I died, but see, I am alive forevermore; and I possess the keys of death and Hades (the realm of the dead)."
   
     
   

November 19, 2014

And Israel Cried Out To The Lord ...

   
     UPDATE:  A fifth victim has died due to the horrendous slaughter by Palestinian terrorists at a Jerusalem synagogue.  Others are in serious and critical condition.

     Have you noticed that the world's focus has turned once again to the nation of Israel?  No matter what your faith, the brutality of the murders at a Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem should break your heart.  Two Palestinian terrorists entered the place of worship with guns and meat cleavers and killed four people, including a Rabbi, and seriously injured seven more.
     According to Israeli news sources, the two terrorists entered the synagogue in the middle of prayers, and began shouting "Allahu akbar'.  Their murderous rampage lasted only a short time before they were both killed by Israeli police in a shootout.  Among the dead are three Israeli-Americans.
     World leaders quickly called the attack "an act of pure terror and senseless brutality and violence", and even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned it; the first time he has done so since the violence has erupted over the contested Temple Mount.  As to be expected, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic terrorist organization, praised the attack as a “response to ongoing crimes against the al-Aqsa mosque [Haram Al-Sharif]”, and called for increased violence.  People lined the streets in Gaza, as Hamas passed out candy to celebrate the murders.
    To the rest of the world, it may be difficult to understand why so much violence and hatred is centered around the Temple Mount.  To fully understand the relevance of this sacred site, one must know its history and its significance.  The Temple Mount is considered to be the holiest site in Judaism, the third holiest site in Islam, and a revered site to Christians. To the Jews it is known as Har HaMoriyah (Mount Moriah) and Har HaBayit (Temple Mount); to Muslims it is known as Haram al Sharif (the Sacred Noble Sanctuary). In the Bible it is also called Mount Zion, which signifies both a physical location (Jerusalem) and a spiritual kingdom, whose center will be a heavenly Jerusalem.
     So, as we race towards the final confrontations of this world, we are beginning to see the culmination of 2,000 years of contention for this sacred ground.  It is the spot identified by Christians and Jews as the place where Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice, and the location of the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple.  It is also the site of Solomon's Temple, and Zerubbabel's Temple, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD.  But to the Muslims, this site is called The Dome of the Rock, and was built in AD 692 over the place where Mohammad supposedly ascended to heaven.  During the Crusades, Christians took temporary control of the Temple Mount, and the Al Aqsa Mosque was used as a palace and church in 1099.  Today the Temple Mount is under the control of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a trust that was established in 1187 to manage the Islamic structures in Jerusalem. Under their current rules, access to the holy sites is prohibited to all non-Muslims.
     But recent archeological discoveries have pointed to the overwhelming evidence that this location originally belonged to the nation of Israel, far earlier than the building of the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque in the 7th century.  And now impassioned Jews want access to their holy site.  In recent weeks, there have been clashes between Jews and Muslims, as each fights for the freedom to pray at this contested shrine.  Under an arrangement in place since Israel's capture of the Old City and its shrines in 1967, the sacred plateau is administered by Muslims reporting to Jordan, while Jews have a right to visit.  But that is becoming increasingly unacceptable to either faith.  The Jews don't want to simply "visit" the Temple Mount, which they see as "the deepest root" to their faith; and the Muslim faithful see the encroachment by the Jews as changing the status quo and the control of the site.  Passions are rising, and daily clashes have resulted in at least two deaths.
     And now the violence has opened a wound that may be difficult to heal.  Fueled by Palestinian revenge (through Hamas), Jerusalem threatens to become engulfed in religiously-fueled hatred of Israel's "occupation".  It is easy to believe the emotional rhetoric that calls for a "Palestinian homeland", but few people bother to research the facts of history.
     The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what are now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., after crushing the last Jewish revolt, the Romans first applied the name Palaestina to Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel.  (Satan's influence can be seen down through history as he attempts to eradicate God's "Chosen" people).
     The Hebrews entered the Land of Israel about 1300 B.C., and enjoyed sovereignty under various kings until the Babylonian conquest in 586 B.C.  The Jewish people enjoyed brief periods of sovereignty afterward until most Jews were finally driven from their homeland in 135 A.D.  It is interesting to note that Jewish independence in the Land of Israel lasted for more than 400 years. This is much longer than Americans have enjoyed independence in what has become known as the United States. In fact, if not for foreign conquerors, Israel would be more than 3,000 years old today.
     But here is the fact that is ignored in today's ongoing war between Arab nations and Israel:  Palestine was never an exclusively Arab country, although Arabic gradually became the language of most of the population after the Muslim invasions of the seventh century. No independent Arab or Palestinian state ever existed in Palestine. When the distinguished Arab-American historian, Princeton University Prof. Philip Hitti, testified against partition before the Anglo-American Committee in 1946, he said: “There is no such thing as ‘Palestine’ in history, absolutely not.”
     The area, known as Palestine, today, was historically a part of southern Syria.  So the truth of Palestinian Arab nationalism is that it is largely a post-World War I phenomenon that did not become a significant political movement until after the 1967 Six-Day War.  And now through powerful propaganda efforts, undoubtedly fueled by a dark spiritual element, war has been declared on the natural rights of Israelis and Jews to their "Promised Land".
     So, for those who seek an agreement with Palestine through Israeli concessions for land, and a compromise of the conflict over the Temple Mount, I urge you to read the Bible.  I fear that there will be more atrocities such as what happened at the Jerusalem synagogue, but Israel's enemies need to realize one thing ... God's Plan for the nation of Israel and Mount Zion will never be defeated.  And in light of these prophecies,  the Biblical command to "Pray for Jerusalem" has never been more appropriate.

Thank you to the website, GotQuestions.org for their valuable history of the Temple Mount.  Thanks also to the Jewish Virtual Library for their history of Israel's Roots.   As a Christian, and a student of the Bible, it is my opinion, that these sources are correct in their knowledge. 

Psalm 87:2-3    "The Lord loves the gates of Zion [through which the crowds of pilgrims enter from all nations] more than all the dwellings of Jacob (Israel). Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God."
   



November 18, 2014

We Can Overcome!

     Feeling unnerved and disheartened?  Who wouldn't be, when every news report and headline foretells chaos and disorder.  For instance, everyone is on pins and needles, waiting for the verdict to come out of Ferguson.  The protestors have released a long list of St. Louis area locations they wish to target, should the verdict not be to their liking.  And they have received coaching from the Community Organizer-in-Chief, to "stay on course".  (I would like an explanation of exactly what that means, please.)  But it's not only Ferguson and surrounding areas that are in a state of suspense.  This event could potentially affect every town in America, as this case has become about race, not justice.
     And speaking of lawlessness, are we soon to be engulfed with up to 5 million immigrants whose illegal status will be made valid by a stroke of the President's pen? Executive Amnesty is a bold political move, and the tactic is obvious -- appear to be the Party of Hispanic inclusion, and paint the Opposition as anti-immigrant, thereby playing ahead to the 2016 Presidential elections.  But, in reality, this move is against the immigration laws already on the books, and appears to threaten Constitutional Order.  And I dare to suggest that this is not really about providing citizenship to hard-working immigrants, or securing Democratic power for generations to come, so much as it is designed to bring down our economic system and force us into Socialism.
     Then there is the report that the Islamic militants engaged with ISIS number around 200,000; at least three times higher (and some sources say seven times higher) than previous CIA estimates.  There is also the fact that their latest beheading video is situated in Dabiq, Syria, which has great significance.  According to Front Page Mag, "Dabiq is a highly symbolic location which has historical and religious significance for Islam. The Islamic State has designated this place for the “Final Hour” where Armageddon will begin in an Islamic apocalyptic tradition that designates the West as modern-day Romans."  It is this murderous Islamic army's goal to bring about the "Final Hour" of this final Crusade.  We, in the West, disregard their bloodlust at our own expense.
     These are only a few of the top headlines that assail us each day; Russia's aggressive stance, the unorthodox weather, another Ebola death in our homeland, and the growing gap between our citizenry and those who rule us, all combine to create an unsettling environment in which to live our lives.  Could it seem any worse?
     How are we to react?  Granted, we cannot ignore it; the potential to impact our daily lives is obvious.  But, unfortunately, it doesn't appear that we have much control over any of it.  Those who are observant will take the necessary steps to protect their families, and be prepared to confront any immediate danger or enemy that presents itself.  But there is so much that is out of our hands.  I must admit that there are times I cannot see past this world, and it threatens to overwhelm me.  The spirit of this realm tells me that I am simply a pawn, that I have no power, and I am expendable.  It tells us all that we don't matter in the big scheme of things.  So, when we choose to listen to those lies, it keeps us in check, and we dutifully submit.  But it's all lies!!!
     I am here to tell you that the powers of this world have no claim on us, if we will just recognize our purpose.  If you belong to God, then He resides in you, and we have His power to overcome the negative spirits of this world.  And I don't want to mislead you -- being an "overcomer" implies that there is going to be a battle; and the battle lines are being drawn.
     But we aren't left defenseless, and we must hold our position, even in these, the greatest trials of our lifetime.  I know it sounds like some "religious nonsense", but we must stop listening to who the world says we are!  We have been given a Promise that outlasts this world; that is far more glorious than all the power and riches and security that this earthly system can provide.  Oh, sure, the world will ridicule us and marginalize us, but we don't have to listen!
     It is our purpose to show the world that we depend on Christ for our victory, no matter the cost.  Let them rely on deception, and their own power, to reap the rewards of this world.  I know that the headlines are only going to get worse, and that my comfortable life in the most blessed nation on earth, is going to drastically change.  But I can also rest in the conviction that my endurance through all the forthcoming trials, my complete dependence on Christ, and my witness of His Saving Grace will bear fruit for His Kingdom.  So, let the negative headlines continue, and let the rulers of this world proceed with their chest thumping.  I know who I am, and what my purpose is; I will triumph over all obstacles, and I will move toward my ultimate reward.  I will not be defeated!

1 John 5:4     "For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith."

November 17, 2014

Why Is Israel So Hated?

     With another beheading of an American in the last few days, the obsession and hatred of the West and Israel was made abundantly clear by the Islamic State Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  I suppose I  can rationally explain his obsession with the U.S. and their coalition forces.  Muslims in the Middle East resent the presence of our troops on their soil and our interference in their governments.  The liberalism of the Western culture is an affront to their religious sensibilities, and there is the centuries long battle between Christendom and Islam.  The Crusades of old are still alive and well, and they center around the Holy Land and its people.
     Al-Baghdadi has described the Jews "as money-hungry individuals who controlled the leaders of Muslim countries ... The Jews were frightened; they feared for their economy. They feared for the Muslims’ wealth and the goods of our lands, which they plunder, suck dry, enjoy themselves with, and fight us with via their agents from amongst the treacherous rulers of the Muslims’ lands. They fear for their security. They fear the revolt of the Muslim peoples [against their rulers]. They fear their defeat. They fear the return of the Khilafah (caliphate) and the return of Muslims to pioneering and leadership."
     But where does this display of al-Baghdadi's boastful hatred and revulsion for the Jews come from?  And why have the nations of the world hated Israel?  For sure, this hatred has prevailed since Israel came into existence nearly 3700 years ago.  When God "chose" the Hebrew people from among all the nations, and established them in "the land He gave them", they became a target.  They were despised for what God accomplished on their behalf; for how they conquered the land with the help of their Lord.
    While Israel might have been the immediate object of much hatred and contempt; in reality, it was their God that the nations hated -- because the God of Israel was greater than any of the false gods of the conquered nations.  That hatred has not waned down through the ages; and because they hated God, they hated everything that came from Him ... His Word, the Bible, and His "chosen" people, the nation of Israel.  It really is as simple as that.  Remove all the politics and the warring religions and the conflict between ethnic peoples and it comes down to this:  they hate the reality of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and the King and Redeemer of Israel.
     That makes the modern restoration of the nation of Israel to their ancient lands a bitter pill to swallow.  Because if God's prophecy of a restored Israel has come true, then "the rest of the story" (as Paul Harvey would say) may also be truth.  You see, it is not merely the history of the last nearly four thousand years of national conflict that has wrought a great animosity towards Israel; there has been enmity against God's plan for the Messiah to come through the nation of Israel since the Garden of Eden.  There is an evil, spiritual source behind the hatred for Israel.  This hostility can be traced to a spirit of anti-Christ; any person or spirit who opposes and denies Christ as the Son of God, and wishes to prevent His return as the King of Israel --- which is the final prophecy of the Bible.
     This spirit can be seen in the plots and tactics of evil rulers down through history, starting with Satan -- certainly Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, Titus, Hitler and now al-Baghdadi all qualify.  And, as Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said on Face The Nation yesterday, "The Middle East is awash with militant Islamists ... Ayatollah Khamenei, the ruler of Iran, calls for the annihilation of Israel. He just did that four days ago. He specified nine ways and reasons by which Israel should be destroyed."
     Behind it all is that spirit of opposition to Christ; a spirit who abhors the reality that Israel is actually in their homeland, and the possibility that her King may soon reign.  And so, as we begin to see the ancient Biblical prophecies fulfilled, the nations are being drawn to Israel to come against her -- just as the Bible predicted!  You see, al-Baghadi, and the nations aligned with him, know what the Bible says will happen; they know that Jesus, Israel's King, will appear with His armies of Heaven, and they will be destroyed.
     It is their delusional and deceived hope that if Israel can be "pushed into the sea", and it no longer exists, that their own destruction can be prevented.  But that is because they have believed the Lie and are sadly deceived.  But the truth is this:  Israel can do nothing to alleviate the hatred from the nations; no amount of concessions for land will satisfy the hatred against her -- that die was cast in the Garden, and the enmity will survive until her Messiah returns.  As for Israel, Jesus, himself tells her that she will be "desolate" -- miserable and grief-stricken -- and He will not return until the nation recognizes Him as their King.  How close are we?  No one knows; but you can feel the spiritual battle rising.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Psalm 2:1-2     "Why do the nations assemble with commotion, and why do the people meditate upon and devise an empty scheme? The kings of the earth take their places; the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His Anointed One (the Messiah, the Christ)."


   

November 16, 2014

Colossians 2:2: There Are Blessings In Understanding The Word!

[For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One).


     I can tell you that it sometimes gets lonely when it seems as if you are separate from the Body of Christ in your understanding of God's Word.  Both my husband and I, in our "deep dive" studies, are mindful that we not change one jot or tittle in Scripture, or to change the meaning, or mislead others by our own interpretation.  That is my prayer each time I approach another with the message of the Bible!
     But, oh, how Satan loves to take advantage of my esteem for the Word!  What better way to discourage me from seeking, as Paul says, to "become more intimately acquainted with" Christ, or to "know [Him] more definitely and accurately and thoroughly" through His Word, than to whisper in my ear ... "Look, your other Christian friends think you're crazy!  They don't get it!  Are you perhaps on the wrong track, and you're mistaken in your understanding?"  That is a charge that the Enemy continues to bring against many of us who are devoting our time to a greater comprehension through diligent study.
     That is why today's chosen Scripture has meant so much to me.  Paul wrote the Epistle to the Colossians because there were reports that the home-Church in Colossae was falling prey to many of the same deceptions that our modern Churches are embracing.  The relevance of Christ as Creator and the fullness of the knowledge of God was being supplanted by false doctrine and theology that undermined the person and work of Christ.  The Colossian Church was in danger of losing their faith in the sufficiency of Salvation through Christ, and the knowledge of Him as Lord of Creation and the Universe.
     Today, the Church is in equal danger of losing His Majestic identity, and espousing the deceptive idea that we no longer need to follow the absolutes of God's Holy Word; that it's OK to compromise with the moral values of the world.  Christ becomes "just a part" of our religious experience, instead of our All.  Indeed, I question if Christ is still the Head of the Church in many of today's "religious buildings".  Does He have Preeminence, or are His followers being taught ways to achieve a "fuller" life that bypasses faith in Him as the One under Whom all power and authority is subjected?  I sometimes wonder how He would judge the teachings in His House.
     But when He is the object of your Faith; when you see Him as the One who contains all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge through His Word, there arises a hunger in your soul to devour every word of Scripture; to, as Paul says "have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding."  And that takes great courage ... because today, too many of God's people don't want to take that journey with us.  They are satisfied to view Christ from a comfortable distance in order to harmonize their faith with their daily lives.  Knowing more of Him, and seeing Him on every page of the Bible -- let alone seeking out that knowledge -- can threaten their "safe" image of Christ as the One who forgives all their sins.
     Yes, He's our Savior, and He's so much more!  How can it be wrong to learn the meaning of every word or Psalm or Parable, if it reveals all that Jesus is?  Yet, a young friend of ours was told by a Pastor that she would "go to hell" for seeking deeper understanding; that she was in danger of "being led astray" by trying to understand Scripture beyond what a surface, or casual, approach could teach.  Take Note:  Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, says we can obtain "a wealth of understanding by becoming progressively more intimate" with Christ.  That word means "proceed step by step; engaging in forward motion".  Meeting Him in the Bible is a way to do that.  But how many Christians are willing to put in the time to even read the Holy Book?
     The Holy Spirit has done a great work in my life and that of my husband.  He has led us to many hours of reverent study of God's Word and new revelation of just how Big our God is.  New understanding is being revealed to us, and we see the supremacy and primacy of Christ in every passage throughout the Bible.  And what's more, I sense that God is working through the Holy Spirit in the lives of others who are willing to receive His blessing of greater understanding.
     He is calling His people out of the false, weak, and deceptive teachings of the apostate Church and encouraging us through the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  You know who you are!  He is "knitting us together in love" as we are finding our paths crossing in seemingly unpredictable ways.  Just yesterday, my husband was referred to a new client, who was interested in buying a piece of his art.  But the conversation quickly changed when this stranger said, "I have a feeling our encounter is not supposed to be about art."  She boldly approached the subject of her faith, and how she was at odds with most of her Christian brethren because she felt called to study her Bible in depth; to see Jesus on every page and to see a "bigger picture" of God's Sovereignty.
     My husband and this new friend in Christ spent the next hour discovering that they had received many of the same revelations, and how difficult it was to share this "good news" with family, friends, and fellow Christians.  But we can take comfort, cheer and encouragement (as our Scripture notes) when we realize that we are not alone and God is being exalted by the Holy Spirit's calling on our lives.  To know Christ more fully, and intimately, and accurately is a blessing beyond measure!

November 15, 2014

Freedom Has Never Been More Precious ... Or More Vulnerable

"Freedom is never more than 
one generation away from extinction."

     We are all familiar with Ronald Reagan's quote from a speech he gave on Labor Day, 1980.  He has been credited with providing one of the most direct warnings to this nation since its inception; but, in reality, this truth is as old as the Bible.  In fact, if you study Reagan's entire speech, you will find an undertone of spiritual meaning in his address.
     But in order to understand how important this advice is, we need to consider the "bigger picture" of just what "Freedom" is, and the consequences of not protecting it.  Reagan gave this speech just before the 1980 Presidential election, when the effects of four years of the Jimmy Carter Presidency were high taxes, high inflation, and 8 million people out of work.  Lech Walesa was leading the way for freedom in the workplace, as he stood up to Poland's Communist authorities.  The tearing down of the Berlin Wall was only a few years in the future ... talk of "Freedom" was in the air.
     Reagan talked of "restoring the American Dream", but he knew that it required more than sound economic policies and a vibrant workforce.  He spoke of "a return to spiritual and moral values, values so deeply held by those who came here to build a new life."  He declared, "We need to restore those values in our daily life, in our neighborhoods and in our government’s dealings with the other nations of the world."  And then he spoke of how this precious Freedom could be lost in a single generation.
     No story reflects this more than the generation of Israelites who lost the freedom of their Promised Land due to unbelief and disobedience.  And I fear that we are doomed to follow the same path.  Like the Israelites, who fled their bondage in Egypt, God led the first oppressed immigrants to the shores of America; to "a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:8).  The founding of this nation was nothing short of a miracle, and God has proved His faithfulness through many marvelous blessings upon this nation.  For a couple of centuries, the inhabitants of this land never doubted the need for God's guidance in securing our prosperity, security, and future.  We enjoyed a Freedom that came from believing in "the Truth"; from relying on The Word, which would set us free from the godlessness of the world.
     But then, like disillusioned Israelites, who listened to the false reports of the 10 spies; we began to listen to the voices of those who told us that God's influence was no longer needed; that the "spiritual and moral values" that President Reagan spoke of, were no longer relevant.  We forgot the lessons of the Israelites, who lost their Promised Land -- in one generation -- because they doubted their essential need for God.
     As long as they had exalted Him, and lived by His spiritual and moral values, they were delivered up to success.  They flourished in their daily lives, their neighborhoods, and their relations with foreign governments -- Reagan knew, that we, too, needed to return to those same values to get those same results.
     But the Israelites soon abandoned their reliance on God and listened to the Deceiver's promises of "false freedom" by way of their own selfish desires, and they sealed their fate.  The generation who turned their back on God and chose to ignore His promises were stripped of their destiny.  I believe that is what Reagan had in mind, when he warned us not to take Freedom for granted.  God has given us Victory in this land.  In record time, we grew to the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth. Do we really think we did that all on our own?
     God blessed this land and protected it.  All we had to do was trust in His guidance and follow His commandments.  There was true freedom in that.  But now we stand on the precipice of losing that precious gift.  It is not only that the number of unemployed Americans is nearly two-and-a-half times what it was when Reagan issued his warning, but we see the destruction of the family, the ruination of our communities, and our loss of standing and respect among our fellow nations.  Our "worldly" freedom is most certainly in jeopardy.
     But it is our "spiritual" freedom that I fear is most threatened.  All we have to do is look at history as it is recorded in the Bible.  Whenever the nation of Israel decided to "go it alone", and that they no longer needed to obey God, it displeased Him and He turned His back.  We deserve no less.  We are showing such ingratitude for the Providence of God's Hand, and I pray that Ronald Reagan's cautionary warning does not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  As he went on to say in his speech, "We must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children."  In order to accomplish this worthy goal, we must return to God's Truth.  That is where our true Freedom lies, and it's what will save Liberty for the next generation, and generations to come.

Galations 2:4    "But false brothers and sisters, who were brought in secretly, slipped in to spy on our freedom, which we have in Christ Jesus, and to make us slaves."

November 14, 2014

Dangerous Allies: Ferguson, Palestine & The Religious Left

   
      It should come as no surprise that the protestors in Ferguson, Missouri should discover a mutually beneficial relationship with the Palestinian Liberation movement.  Those in Ferguson, who see the death of Michael Brown as unjustified and the result of tyranny by an iron-fisted police force, are finding a symbiosis with Palestinian nationalists who see themselves as suffering under Israeli occupation.
     But how much of this kinship is intrinsically recognized, and how much is promoted and encouraged? When considering racially charged Ferguson, and anti-Israel Palestine, what are the similarities that the Religious Left (didn't know they existed, did you?) can exploit?  The answer in one word -- it is called OPPRESSION.
     First, let's identify the Religious Left.  This is much more difficult to do than defining the Religious Right.  The Leftist version is described on Wikipedia as referring to a spectrum of left-wing Christian (?) political and social movements that largely embrace viewpoints described as social justice that upholds a social gospel.  I question the Christian aspect of their movement, because they often do not believe in the infallibility or veracity of the Bible.  Their interpretation of "social justice" is based on the collective; i.e., justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.
     I contend that the Biblical meaning of "social justice" is more individual than societal; Jesus commands each of us to take care of the poor, the widows, and the fatherless.  The Bible places the responsibility on the individual to show kindness and mercy, rather than on the government to force income equality through increased taxes and redistribution.  Obviously, one approach is God-centered; the other is man-centered.
     Now that we have the definitions and explanations out of the way, what does all this have to do with Ferguson and Palestine?  Well, it seems that the Religious Left includes organizations like the Quaker group, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  They have become a political force that has involved itself in causes they deem "oppressive" to the spirit of "peace."  To wit, they welcomed a blog post on their website from a Palestinian who has become embroiled in the Ferguson protests.  Bassem Masri felt the same dismissal by mainstream Americans toward the plight of Ferguson citizens, as he has in Americans' repudiation of the Palestinian cause.  He wrote, "The timing of the two events woke up a lot of people. When Mike was killed, much of the media started demonizing him and the protestors, often the same sources that blamed Palestinians for their own deaths in Gaza. People naturally saw the connections."  Oh, really?
     While admitting that I am nervous about seeing the militarization of police, I am also not willing to declare either Michael Brown, the destructive citizens of Ferguson, or the anti-Israeli Palestinians as "innocent" victims of tyranny.  I am not sitting on the Ferguson Grand Jury, and therefore I do not have all the evidence, but by all appearances, this will not be a slam-dunk indictment of Officer Darren Wilson.  Neither are the citizens of Ferguson without fault.  Those who chose to rob businesses, destroy private property, and assault law enforcement officers should not expect sympathy for their actions.
     I'm sorry, but I reject the premise of Mr. Masri, and groups like the AFSC, that Ferguson rioters and Palestinian nationalists are fellow "resistance fighters".  And I resent the race card being played as a method of pointing out "human rights abuses" in Ferguson.  It is a clear attempt to create a common identity between these two disparate groups.  By endorsing Masri's post and self-proclaimed role as "collaborator" with the Ferguson protestors, AFSC shows their true colors:  to proclaim the moral and social tyranny of America and Israel.  Masri stokes the fire, as he writes, "Facing violence from an occupying force, whether in Palestine or Ferguson, forges a mindset that demands resistance and standing up for one’s community. When the police used military tanks and checkpoints to imprison the residents of Ferguson, I was reminded of life in the West Bank where I saw the Israeli military use the same tactics of repression."  Ah, not only is his bias showing, but his own bigotry and political leanings.
     Sadly, I am afraid that Ferguson is ripe for such exploitation.  I used to live near St. Louis during my high school years, and I can tell you that the ensuing years of government entitlement have led to this powder keg situation.  Generations of fatherless kids and welfare families, along with a willingness to write off these communities, have created two Americas that will not easily be reconciled.  The racial tension is so palpable you can touch it; the economic divide seems insurmountable.  No one seems to know how to avoid the coming firestorm.  And into the fray, step outside groups who are organized, and only too willing to capitalize on the mounting pressure; groups who threaten to usurp the cause of the Ferguson residents for their own agendas.  They don't even know they are being used.
     So, now the Grand Jury verdict is due any day now.  What will be the ramifications?  And who will ultimately benefit from the expected chaos?  It seems clear to me that Ferguson is positioned to become the battle ground between anarchy and authoritarianism ... and who will be the victor?  Either way, America loses.

For more on the views of Mr. Masri and the American Friends Service Committee, click here.  

Psalm 7:8    "The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me."