A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


March 29, 2015

1 Timothy 4:1

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach,


     I'm sure you all remember those old Saturday morning cartoons where Donald Duck or Elmer Fudd endured the ongoing battle between the little devil who sat on their left shoulder and the little angel who occupied the other shoulder.  Both whispered in their ears, giving them advice on how to behave or conduct themselves in a particular situation.  Think it's just the clever imagination of some creative cartoonist?  
     Timothy, in this Scripture, is exhorting us to be wary of this exact circumstance.  Ever since Lucifer and his followers were given access to this earthly realm, they have been whispering lies and counterfeit truths to our spirits.  Eve submitted to just such a "seducing spirit" that is mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:1, and every human being since, has been warned that there will be a spiritual battle for our souls.
     Not even the Church will be exempt from such delusions.  And if you believe, as I do, that the "latter times" spoken of here in our featured verse, are near; then you should be concerned about the number of people who call themselves Christians, yet have turned away from the faith (without even knowing it) by following false doctrine. 
     How many times in the Bible have you read "Do not be deceived?"  Certainly, in all the various translations of the Bible, Jesus makes his words in Matthew 24:4 clearly understood:  "Watch out that no one deceives you" (NIV); "See that no one leads you astray" (ESV); "Don't let anyone mislead you" (NLT).  And Peter, Paul, John and James all warn the saints against being deceived by false doctrine.
     Yet, we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 that God, Himself, will send "a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false."  Why?  Remember the time period that we are talking about ... the latter times; the End Times.  God is Sovereign in His plan, and He, alone, will determine the end of opportunity for man to receive the Truth.  All men will have ample time and occasion to answer God's call and seek His Truth.  When God determines that He is through tolerating wickedness upon the earth, He will turn men over to their misconceptions and their misunderstandings and their outright falsehoods.  
     It's easy to contemplate that happening among the unsaved, but what about the Church?  Have they succumbed to the whispers of lying spirits, and embraced the false doctrines propagated by Satan?  Just consider some of the doctrines that are part of the mainstream Church today:
•  Overemphasis of Prosperity.  I'm sure you are aware of the "Prosperity Gospel" that has drawn millions of Western Christians to its false promises.  False preachers have turned away from the faith preached by Jesus.  Our Savior warned us against storing up our treasure here on earth.  We are to be rich in faith, not possessions.  He never taught us that our faith would lead to worldly gain.  Shepherds who encourage their flock to seek after God in order to attain material wealth have been seduced by "doctrine that demons teach".
•  Exaggerated View of Grace.  We are now seeing what can be called "Hyper-Grace" in the Church.    The God of the New Testament has forsaken his judging ways, and is now a God of Grace and Mercy.  How many times have you heard Preachers announce from the pulpit, "We live in the Age of Grace"?  It's true, through Christ's atoning death on the Cross, we have received God's grace through faith; and through faith in His promises, we receive salvation.  But that's a one-sided view of God's character.  He did not change His commandment about repentance in order to receive Grace.  And without repentance, we can expect His judgment.  I have a feeling that there will be a lot of Christians who are surprised when they stand before the Great White Throne.  After all, it's called "Judgment Day", not "Grace Day".  Think that the Preachers who teach this lop-sided vision of God have been deluded?
• Challenging the Authority of the Word.  There are so many divisions in the Church today, and they pretty much center around how "Christians" interpret the Word.  You have those like Rob Bell, who are responsible for pushing the Emerging Church Movement, who support the view that there is a new paradigm of how the Bible should be perceived by those who call themselves faithful.  Basically, Bell and his adherents will tell you that much of the Bible is mythological, allegorical, symbolic, or just plain fable.  I've had members of this movement tell me that the Star of Bethlehem and the Wise Men are part of a folktale; that Mary did not experience a miraculous conception; and that Jesus did not know He was the Son of God until He was hanging on the Cross and died.  
     And what about the Denominations who have embraced same-sex marriage and homosexuality as Biblical concepts?  In order to accept these unbiblical doctrines, they must agree that God didn't really say what He said about sin in the Bible; or that He didn't really mean what He said.  Either way, lying spirits have succeeded in turning people away from the true faith.
•  Rejecting Hell.  How quickly has Western "Churchianity" turned to the delusion of this lie?  Fifty years ago, one would have been accused of heresy had he proposed this false doctrine.  But it is simply a "sign of the [End] times" that so many Pastors are now preaching that Hell does not exist.  As Steve Hill, of Heartland World Church Ministries, in Dallas teaches, "because we preach an imbalanced gospel—emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice—we no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology."
     In fact, Church leaders and pastors are completely eliminating the reality of hell from their denominational doctrines.  Perhaps that is why the Book of Revelation is so often ignored in Bible Study classes across this land.  If it were to be deliberated, it would be too hard to ignore Matthew Henry's expository on Revelation, Chapter 14:  "The enemies of Christ and his church are not destroyed, till by their sin they are ripe for ruin, and then he will spare them no longer. The wine-press is the wrath of God, some terrible calamity, probably the sword, shedding the blood of the wicked. The patience of God towards sinners, is the greatest miracle in the world; but, though lasting, it will not be everlasting; and ripeness in sin is a sure proof of judgment at hand."
     These are just a few of the doctrinal delusions that plague the Church today.  We must realize that they originate in the spiritual and demonic realm.  What passes for "religion" is often the result of the "deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach"; this is the precise warning that Timothy gives us in our Scripture today.  As true Christians, we must pray that God will protect our minds from these deceptive teachings and break the stronghold of any false doctrines that have crept into our personal faith.  Pray for the discernment of the Holy Spirit, and ask God to shine His light on your understanding so that you will not turn away from faith in Him and His Word.  
     Jesus said that in the Last Days, even the elect could be deceived.  With heartfelt prayer and a true desire to keep to the authority of the Word, God will deliver us from deception.  Pray and Believe!

For further enlightenment, I urge you to read Steve Hill's article, "The 7 Great Lies in the Church Today."

March 28, 2015

The Persecution Stories You Haven't Heard

     I guess it shouldn't surprise us that the following news stories aren't being blasted across the media.  After all, the persecution of Christians is not actually a top concern among the secular crowd. But, I think it is important that everyone realize the severity of the issue.
     The latest religious freedom study from Pew Research shows that Christians and Jews seem to suffer the most in countries around the world.  The problem is getting so bad in the Middle East that a delegation representing Middle East minorities is hoping the United Nations Security Council will soon take action to protect small communities that are undergoing ethnic cleansing by ISIS.
     Then there are the stories coming out of Nigeria that are heart-breaking.  Walid Shoebat's website, Shoebat.com, is reporting of the atrocities against Christians in this West African nation.  In case you are unaware of who he is, Walid Shoebat (in his own words) "used to be a radicalized Muslim willing to die for the cause of Jihad until I converted to Christianity in 1994."  He now refers to himself as an experienced former terrorist, who is committed to renouncing radical Islam and reporting atrocities against fellow Christians around the world.
    Earlier this week, he carried the stories that Muslims in Nigeria, who are all part of the Fulani tribe, ambushed 82 people in a Christian village as they slept in their beds and slaughtered all of them in a new massacre of Christians that the media is not paying any attention to.  Here is the story as reported by The Christian Post:  Fulani Muslim herdsmen killed at least 82 people and injured several more in an attack on 15 March against a mainly Christian village in Agatu, in Nigeria’s central Benue state. Storming the village at around 4 a.m., herdsmen killed anyone in their path and murdered scores of villagers as they slept in their beds.
     “The search for victims and survivors is still ongoing,” said a local resident, “but there is no doubt that the figure may rise because the entire village is like a killing field with the stench of blood everywhere and many still missing”.
     The attackers are thought to be from Loko in neighbouring Nasarawa state. After attacking residents and breaking into their homes, the Fulani herdsmen razed the village to the ground, destroying trees, food barns and farmland.
     Residents in the village are of the predominantly Christian Egba ethnic group. Ethnic Fulani Muslims frequently attack Christian villages across Nigeria, killing residents and burning churches. Christians in north-eastern Nigeria also suffer attacks from the Islamist insurgency group Boko Haram, which focuses in particular on Christians, Western-style educational institutions and security/political targets.
     Shoebat's website also carried a story by Global News that Muslims in Nigeria, all members of Boko Haram, had kidnapped four hundred people, consisting of women and children, executing 50 of them before leaving the village.  Here is the official story:  Militant Islamist group Boko Haram kidnapped more than 400 women and children from the northeastern Nigeria town of Damasak, according to a report in the wake of the town being freed by armed forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger earlier this month.
     “They took 506 young women and children. They killed about 50 of them before leaving,” Reuters quoted local trader Souleymane Ali saying. “We don’t know if they killed others after leaving, but they took the rest with them.”
     According to Reuters, there has been no official Nigerian government confirmation of how many people may have been kidnapped from the town.
     Damasak became a ghost of what it was before Boko Haram held the town of 200,000 people under siege for five months, according to the New York Times.
     So, why haven't we heard here in the West of these atrocities?  I guess it's understandable when you consider that most of the media is godless and uninterested in faith issues.  But isn't the genocide of entire groups of people -- regardless of faith or nationality -- newsworthy?
     And what about those Christians who are in the national spotlight?  Why aren't they calling more attention to the persecution of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?  Are we not called to intercede on their behalf with prayers and petitions to the throne room of our God?  Without honest and up-to-date reporting, we affluent and comfortable Christians in the West will continue to bask in our naiveté and ignorance.  And that's exactly where the Enemy wants to keep us ... unaware, insensitive, and easily defeated.  We remain so at our own risk.

1 Peter 4:12      "Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you."
   

March 27, 2015

What If You Had Eight Minutes To Meet Your Maker?

   
     Yesterday, the news of the intentional downing of Germanwings Airbus Flight A320 shocked the world.  I must admit that I was not completely surprised.  Something felt "fishy" from the moment the media announced the crash in the French Alps.  According to the latest reports, Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz "intentionally" sent the plane into its tragic descent.
     I've heard news report after news report speaking to "what went on in that cockpit".  We have heard the reports of the captain banging on the cockpit door, demanding to be re-admitted, and the calm demeanor with which the co-pilot carried out his alleged plan.  We want to know why Lubitz did what he did ... was it depression, a suicide wish?  Was terrorism any part of the equation?  Eventually we will have those answers.
     For now, all the talking heads, professional pilots, and airline officials are discussing airline procedures in the fatal crash.  How can they reassess their procedures which were instituted in the wake of 9/11?  The airline policy of keeping the bad guys out of the cockpit seems to have backfired as, in this instance, the policy kept the good guys out.  And how can they overcome the obstacle of a co-pilot who manually blocks entrance to the cockpit?  Do they need to rethink the psychological evaluations of pilots?  There will be many man-hours spent on replaying this scenario.
     But my immediate thoughts were of the 149 passengers on board.  Rather than contemplating what went on in the cockpit, my emotions lie with what went on in that passenger cabin.  The cockpit voice recorder has already revealed the last minutes of that flight -- the pilot banging on the door and the screams of the passengers as they realized their fate.  So I ask the question I submitted in the title of this post ... What would you do if you had eight minutes to meet your Maker?
     I have read the writings of theologians, both past and present, who advise that "It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ, and what He has done for us."  But what if you only had eight minutes?!?  I cannot imagine the thoughts of those passengers who did not know Him.  Were they consumed with terror over the loss of their life, without any sense of what would happen to them in the seconds after? Were their thoughts only of their own fear, their families, and what it would feel like to die?  Were there any thoughts of their mortal souls or how they would spend eternity?
     Of course, eight minutes is ample time to make a decision to accept Jesus as your Savior, and to ask forgiveness for your sinful life.  I can only imagine that God can send the Holy Spirit in a split second, and salvation is yours.  But sadly, how many on that flight gave no thought to their eternal life, or had no inclination to seek the Lord in their last minutes on this earth?
     As I contemplate those who belonged to God, I try to put myself in their place.  Eight minutes is a long time to survey your life.  I'd like to think that I could master my fear quickly as I understood the implication of the pilot's actions and the rapid descent.  I hope that I would immediately surrender that fear to the One who is in control of my life; that I would reach out and commune with Him who is my Strength and the One in whom I trust.  I hope that I would have the sense to thank Him for my salvation and ask for His mercy as I prepared to stand before Him in all His glory.  Finally, it is my sincere desire that the Holy Spirit would help me to meet my end on this earth with a heart full of joy and praise for God's presence in my life.
     I know that the scenario I presented for myself probably sounds like a fairy tale; too good to be true -- nobody can be expected to have the presence of mind to look beyond their own human terror in those fatal moments, and to fixate upon their Creator.  But I only have to look upon examples in the Bible to know that it is possible.  Stephen did it, as he prayed for God to receive His spirit.  His death was as quick and unexpected as the tragedy in the Alps.  I cannot accept any other explanation but that God will flash the knowledge of Himself and His mercy into our minds at the very moment when it is needed.
     I pray for the souls on board that tragic flight, and for their families, who have to live with so many unanswered questions about the last moments of their loved ones' lives.  This tragedy is just one more reason that we should feast upon the Word of God; of His blessed assurances; and of the Joy in the world to come.  How many minutes do you have left?

1 Corinthians 15:54            When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

   

March 26, 2015

It's All Part Of The Game

   
     For the past few seasons, there has been a popular TV show called "Game of Thrones".  It has captured the imaginations of millions of Americans and is about fictional dynasties and their nasty infighting and subterfuge as they compete for power and dominance over each other.  Even though the story lines are make-believe and mythical, it's not much different than what we see going on in our own political system.
     Whenever the established "dynasties" of American politics are faced with a new contender, the battle is on!  But if you are really observant, you can tell that it is not just the competing parties that engage in a full-on assault on the newcomer, but even power bases within their own political family.  You are seeing it in the attacks upon Ted Cruz, the Texas Senator who is among the first to throw his hat into the political ring for the 2016 Presidency.
     You would expect the Democrats to launch a strike, but the establishment Republicans are also up-in-arms against him.  Now, I am in no way endorsing the candidacy of Mr. Cruz.  I'm afraid that I've grown too skeptical of politicians, and have been fooled too many times.  Oh, Ted says all the right things; the things I want to hear -- he is unapologetically conservative; has a profound faith in God and the American story of freedom for all; he wants to change Washington; and he is a determined supporter of Israel.  But we've heard all that before, right?
     And then there is that photo of him and Henry Kissinger ... I could have done without that.  I'm sure you've read all the hoopla over it among ultra-conservative bloggers:  "Ted Cruz kisses the ring of the Illuminati"; "Ted Cruz announces his anointing by the New World Order", etc.  Now, I have to admit that my spider senses went crazy when that image appeared in the news media.
     What exactly was the reason for that meeting?  Why would Ted Cruz seek out Kissinger, and is there any hidden meaning in his announcement that it was "an honor" to sit down with the former power figure?  Does it have anything to do with former Secretary of State Kissinger's ideas of how the U.S. could play " a responsible role in the evolution of a 21st-century world order", as expressed in his August 2014 Wall Street Journal essay?  Is Cruz seeking acceptance by the NWO, or asking for advice?
     OR, could it be that it was Kissinger that sought out Cruz in the hopes of bringing him into the NWO fold?  Could Cruz have rejected the offer and that is why the Establishment Republicans (NWO hacks, themselves?) are so vehemently against him?
     If that is the case, then why did Candidate Cruz ignore all the uproar over the implications of that meeting?  If you are the anti-New World Order candidate, wouldn't you want to make that perfectly clear to all those who have doubts?  Otherwise, everything you have to say beyond this point is tainted and suspect.
     But just as in the TV series, everything in this real-life Game of Thrones is pretty much up for grabs.  But we, the American people, must ask ourselves this pertinent question: Do we really think that this round of Clintons, or Bushes, or even the Tea Party rebels running for President will make a difference in the future of America?  Doesn't it feel like it's just all part of the game?  That it's already been decided who will wear the crown, and all this maneuvering and plotting and juxtaposition for alliances is just for show?
     It's obvious that the American people (at least those who are awake) are tired of the masquerade.  The old political promises and tactics don't work anymore.  What if the puppet masters recognize that, and so they are trying a new action plan?  Don't you think it is possible that Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul or Marco Rubio are just wolves in sheep's clothing?  Can you conceive that the strategy may look different this time, but the result will be the same -- the NWO has been set in motion and is inevitable?
     I know there are many who still believe that our vote counts; that we can change the direction and course this country is on.  But my Biblical worldview is telling me that the four riders of the Apocalypse have begun their ride and the seals are opening.  War, Famine, Pestilence and Death abound in the earth; they are soon to be followed by the appearance of the Anti-Christ.  God can still decide to intervene in the affairs of our nation, and through His sovereignty anoint a God-fearing leader as our next President.  We can, and should, pray for that.
     And while we're praying, let's ask that we all have discerning minds to clearly see the schemes of our Enemy ... for just like the popular TV series, the Devil's story is one of duplicity and treachery, conquest and triumph.  We are the pawns in his real-life battle for the Heavenly Throne.  Unlike the election of our next President, we already know who the Victor of the heavenly battle will be; but we must still guard against the darkness of the Usurper.  Stay vigilant!

Exodus 3:19-20   "Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,"
   

March 25, 2015

The Religious Freedom Bill

     Indiana has joined a handful of states to pass legislation protecting business owners from "burdensome" anti-discrimination laws that would force them to go against their faith.  Called "The Religious Freedom Bill", this law's primary intent is "to keep the government from forcing people of faith to provide services for same-sex weddings or other activities that are contrary to their religious beliefs."
     As I'm sure you are well aware, there is an agenda in this country to confront business owners whose faith prohibits them from supporting same-sex marriages.  Wedding photographers, Bakeries, and Florists are often singled out as examples of discrimination against the LGBT community.  Too often, these business owners are forced to choose between their faith and their ability to make a living.  They have been sued, have lost in court, and rather than forsake their faith, have been compelled to file bankruptcy or otherwise close down their businesses.
     Unfortunately, our changing court system has not upheld the Constitution and our First Amendment which "prohibits the impeding of the free exercise of religion."  Hastily passed anti-discrimination laws by progressive lawmakers have, so far, taken precedence over our First Amendment rights.
     But now, states like Indiana are moving forward in an attempt to give courts guidance on how to decide cases involving competing constitutional rights pertaining to religious freedom and discrimination.
     Not surprisingly, supporters of the bill argue the measure is needed to protect Indiana business owners from too much government control. Opponents decry the measure as legalized discrimination.  It is obvious to me that there needs to be a stronger judicial standard in settling these cases.  The fact that specific business owners could be forced to lose their businesses, even though LGBT customers have viable alternatives from other businesses who would service them, seems like reverse discrimination and an excuse for a "witch hunt".
     The Governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, released this statement after his state's House of Representatives passed the bill:  “The legislation, SB 101, is about respecting and reassuring Hoosiers that their religious freedoms are intact.  I strongly support the legislation and applaud the members of the General Assembly for their work on this important issue.  I look forward to signing the bill when it reaches my desk.”
     The proposal is modeled on a 22-year-old federal law known as the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. That law played a key role in the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that allowed Hobby Lobby and other closely held corporations with religious objections to opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement that they cover certain contraceptives for women.
     The faith of Hobby Lobby's owners played prominently in their decision to oppose that law, just as the faith of business owners in Indiana is important in how they conduct their lives and businesses.  And, as you would expect, both sides of the argument used the Bible to support their arguments.
     Proponents of the Religious Freedom bill pointed to an anesthesiologist who didn't want to anesthetize a woman in preparation for an abortion.  They believe the Bible's command to "do all things as unto the Lord" means religious believers need to be protected not just in church, but in their workplaces as well.
     Opponents to SB 101 argue that Jesus served all people, pointing out that he "had dinner with hookers", and blessed them.  Anything less than total acceptance of the LGBT lifestyle is discrimination.
     What I have found disconcerting about this whole issue is the fact that tolerance seems to be awfully one-sided.  From what I have read, every business owner who cited their faith as reason they could not offer their services to same-sex weddings offered to help the customer find another business owner who would provide the service.  But, you see, I'm not sure that the actual service was really the priority to those filing suit.  I think they wanted to force those of faith to pay some kind of penalty for their religious beliefs; even going so far as costing them their living.  And that, as Indiana and 12 other states have determined, will soon be illegal.  It's just too bad that we have to pass a law to be able to practice our faith in good conscience.

2 Corinthians 10:5    "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ..."

March 24, 2015

Smartphones, Our Children, and Their Mental Health

     What does the year 2010 and the increase in mental health issues of children have in common?  You can probably guess from the title of this blog that it is Smartphones.  In an article on the website for U.K.'s The Telegraph, one of the country's foremost psychotherapists explains that in 2010, "I saw my work increase by a mad amount and so did others I work with. Suddenly everything got much more dangerous, much more immediate, much more painful."
     Dr. Julie Lynn Evans explained that in the 1990s she might have one or two suicide attempts a year.  Now that number has increased to around four per month.  She reports that the access to the internet that comes with Smartphones has opened up a world of danger to our kids.  These phones, in effect, allow predators easy access to impressionable young minds.  Just consider that anything -- anything -- is available on the internet.  Add to that, the reality that parental approval or supervision is unnecessary and rarely asked for, we are left with an unsupervised generation that is easily exploited.
     We've all seen them ... the adult chat rooms, the pornography sites, the virtual reality rooms where anyone can disguise their real identity.  Children wander into these sites, and spend unlimited amounts of time there, being sucked into dark places they are too inexperienced and unprepared to handle.
     But it is not only pernicious sexual situations that are harming our kids.  Dr. Evans says, "My clients are cutting their arms, thighs, shoulders and stomachs; they are exhibiting signs of seriously disordered eating, they are medicating fast and furiously, they are refusing to go to school, they are sleepless and scared. Some are depressed and anxious, some have conduct disorder and problems with authority, and some are simply terrified. My consulting room, and those of my colleagues, are full of children who are more dramatically unhappy than they were a decade ago."
    As if that's not enough, kids are not developing healthy relationships because Smartphones don't encourage kindness, compassion, or ethics.  Everything is instantaneous and no thought is given to consequences from an unkind or cruel remark.  Bullying has become a constant companion for far too many kids.  And parents are too busy on their Smartphones to notice the warning signs.
     I have spent far too many instances with people who can't stay off their phones long enough to have a complete conversation or share a meal.  Meanwhile, their kids are becoming zombies; glued to their phones and unable to communicate in any other meaningful way.  That has to be affecting their brains, as well as their social skills and ability to solve problems on their own.
    Once again, I find myself lamenting the rapid advancement of technology.  Has it really improved our lives for the better?  Sure, it has brought progress in medicine; helped us to organize our lives better; and expanded our knowledge base.  We can find the answer to almost any question we have on the internet.  But have the negative side effects outweighed the advantages?  Have Facebook and Google advanced our culture, or just taken our attention away from real person-to-person dialogue?  And have we given up our privacy and freedom from intrusion in our daily lives?  Has it been worth it?  Are we a healthier nation -- both mentally and physically?
     I am just afraid that Smartphones have become an unnatural and abnormal lifeline for the youth of this nation.  The devices provide a parent-free, unsupervised world in which they are losing their humanity.  We were not created to live such isolated lives; and Smartphones cannot express human feelings, grant forgiveness, or experience the joy of human contact.  What a perfect way for the Devil to entice our children into a life that lacks God's love.  Yes, technology has made our lives easier, but are our kids paying the price?

To read more about the mental health issues conveyed by Dr. Julie Lynn Evans, please click here or here. 
   
1 John 4:4    "Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
   

March 23, 2015

Ancient Prophecies And Modern Iraq

      It is true that the world continues to be horrified by the barbaric crimes against humanity being committed by ISIS in the name of the Islamic Caliphate.  Who can fathom the hatred and wickedness that is behind the beheadings, the torture, the raping of children, genocide against entire Christian villages, and destruction of ancient historical sites?  Northern Iraq has been overrun by Evil, and the world watches in horror.
     Yet, from my Biblical worldview, this is not the first time this area of the world has seen such wickedness.  I have alluded to the significance of ISIS's stronghold near the ancient city of Nineveh in a previous post.  But there is much more to the story ... there is actually a connection between what is going on today in Iraq, and a prophecy in the ancient Biblical Book of Nahum.
     In just three short chapters, the prophet Nahum prophecies about the Judgment-to-come upon Nineveh, the vengeance of the Lord, and the defeat of the wicked.  Since it is speculated that Nahum wrote his prophecy somewhere around the mid-600s B.C., could it have any relevance for us today?
      First, I want to thank David Ettinger, copy editor for Zion's Hope Ministries, for his scholarly research on the prophet Nahum and the ancient Assyrian Empire.  Through his writing, I discovered that ancient Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire, "one of the most cruel, vile, powerful, and brutal nations that ever existed."  If you are a student of Biblical history, then you know that it was Assyria that defeated the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, took them into captivity, and exiled and dispersed them from their land.
     Just how evil was the ancient Assyrian Empire?  Here, in their own words, are examples of the crimes they committed against humanity (Details are graphic, so please be forewarned):
•  King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC):  "I stormed the mountain peaks and took them.  In the midst of the mighty mountain I slaughtered them; with their blood I dyed their mountain red like wool... The heads of their warriors I cut off, and I formed them into a pillar over and against their city; their young men and their maidens I burned alive in the fire." (Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia, 1:148).
•  King Ashurnasirpal again, telling of a captured enemy leader:  "I flayed [him], his skin I spread upon the wall of the city..." (ibid, 1:146).
•  King Sennacherib (705-681 BC):  "I cut their throats like lambs.  I cut off their precious lives [as one cuts] a string.  Like many waters of a storm I made [the contents of] their gullets and entrails run down upon the wide earth ... Their hands I cut off." (ibid, 2:127)
•  King Shalamaneser II ( 859-824 B.C.):  "A pyramid of heads I reared in front of his city.  Their youths and their maidens I burnt up in the flames." (ibid, 1:213).
•  King Ashurbanipal (669-626 B.C.):  "I pierced his chin with my keen hand dagger.  Through his jaw ... I passed a rope, put a dog chain upon him and made him occupy ... a kennel." (Ibid, 2:310).
     Now, unless you think that these accounts are all ancient history (which they are), I implore you to realize that this same area today is seeing the same wretchedness and evil practices of these historic kings.  The actions of ISIS are no less an abomination.  Plus, the ancient city of Nineveh is near modern-day Mosul, which is occupied by ISIS fighters; and ancient Assyria is now the nations of Syria, parts of Iran, Iraq and modern day Turkey.
     It is important, when considering the prophecies of Nahum, that we understand that Nineveh had been given the privilege of knowing the one true God through the preaching of Jonah (refer to my previous post).  This great and powerful city had repented of their evil ways, and God had graciously stayed His judgment.  But it wasn't long before the Assyrians forgot their revival and returned to their habits of violence, idolatry, and arrogance.
     A few years later, Nahum would write that the God of Israel will inflict "brutal (and much warranted) judgment upon the detestably wicked heathens."  Here are his very words in Chapter 1, concerning the oracle of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria: "The Lord is a jealous God and avenging; the Lord avenges and He is full of wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries and reserves wrath for His enemies."  Nahum's prophecy regarding God's judgment would be fulfilled in 612 B.C., when the Babylonian Empire would completely destroy the city.  As I noted in my post of July 10, 2014, "the ancient Nineveh's location is marked by excavations of five gates, parts of walls on four sides, and two large mounds. These ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Nineveh Governorate of Iraq."
       So, we can see that God made good on His prophecy through the prophet Nahum.  But is this prophecy limited to a one-time fulfillment?  Is not our God, Immutable and Never-Changing?  The atrocities and evil that occurred in ancient Assyria are the same as what is being committed by ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the modern-day counterparts of ancient Assyria.  What makes us think that God will deal with them any differently?
     This idea might not be popular among the factions of Christianity that only see God as loving, full of Grace, and compassionate.  He IS all of that!  But He is also a holy and righteous God , a "consuming fire" (Deuteronomy 4:24), and He will not allow such evil to reign unrestrained.  His justice was not limited to Old Testament judgment and retribution.  His justice demands that He take vengeance against evil and punish wickedness -- whether it occurs in 650 B.C. or 2015 A.D.
     The fact that ISIS and their radical ideology have made Christians a focal point of their murderous ways will not be lost on God.  God will punish blatant, cruel, and persistent sin, and the wicked will not escape their due.
     But we, in the West and America, must look to our own apostasy.  Like ancient Nineveh, we have known the one true God, but are rapidly descending into moral depravity.  We may not have committed the vile acts of brutality that Assyria or ISIS have done, but we have been blatant and persistent in our sin, without repentance.  While our nation has not enjoyed its powerful status as long as ancient Assyria, we have nonetheless been recipients of His blessings ... as long as we remained faithful to Him.  But I cannot help feeling that as America and the West have withdrawn from God, He is withdrawing from us, and leaving us to our own devices.
     Should we not take a lesson from the ancient Ninevites and Assyrians?  We know that God can turn His wrath aside if we repent and seek His forgiveness and blessings.  What will history record about us?  How will God deal with us versus the evil perpetrators of ISIS?  We would be wise to study the ancient prophets and listen to the enduring Word of the Lord.

Nahum 3:19    "There is no healing of your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over [what has happened to] you. For upon whom has not your [unceasing] evil come continually?"

March 22, 2015

Luke 8:25

And He said to them, [Why are you so fearful?] 
Where is your faith (your trust, your confidence in Me—
in My veracity and My integrity)?


    Perhaps just like the disciples in Luke, Chapter 8, you are facing some storm in your life.  For me, it is about finances.  Being self-employed, the upcoming tax season is always a burden to my soul.  Again this year, we are faced with a tax bill that isn't justified by our income.  How can we owe so much, and have to pay so much in quarterly taxes, when we made less this year than last -- and paid less in taxes than we owe this year?  
     And I must confess that each year at this time, I am filled with unbelief.  How will we meet this financial burden, and are we truly following God's will for our life by remaining self-employed?  These feelings of mistrust and doubt are no different than those experienced by the Disciples as they were tossed upon the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a raging storm.  Just like the Disciples, it is times like this in my life, when I feel as if I am sinking.  And what do I do?  I give into the despair that comes with the lies Satan is whispering in my ear ... "There's no way you can pay those taxes!  And even if you come up with the money for Tax Day, two months later you have another bill due in the matter of the Quarterly payment.  How can you possibly think you can overcome these tremendous financial burdens?"  
      But this is when I must seriously change my focus.  If I keep my eyes and my mind on my problems, then it only leads to a lack of faith.  After all, the Disciples had Yeshua, the Son of God, who could bring people back from the dead -- and He was right there in the boat with them, and they still doubted that they would survive their storm!  I don't want to repeat their unbelief! 
     That's why it is paramount for me to realize that He is in my boat, too.  He's right here with me, in the middle of my storm, and I need to refocus my mind and my energy on Him, rather than the problem I am facing.  I need to remember not only Who He is, but who He says I am, and what He can do in my life.  I need to focus on the tremendous Power that He has in my life, and that His Word is true, as are His promises. 
     In Psalm 50:15, the Word reads, "And call upon Me in the day of trouble:  I will deliver you, and you will glorify me."  Psalm 34:7 reads, "The angel of Yahweh encamps round about them that fear Him, and delivers them."  Now, I can try to focus on these promises and try to remember them, but if I don't believe them, then these promises cannot deliver me, can they?  There is no power in the promises, without belief and trust.  
     If I will but focus on Him, there are certainties that cannot be dismissed.  If I believe that one day I will reside in Heaven because Yahweh can resurrect me from my dead body and give me a new glorified body like His Son, then why can't I believe Him for solving a lack of finances?  When I look at my storm from that perspective, it seems silly to be tossed about upon a sea of worry and stress, doesn't it?  When I focus on that aspect of His nature and how big He is, then there is no doubt that He can deliver me from this inane issue of taxes.  
     I know that it does not mean that I will never have any troubles in my life.  The Bible is clear that we will suffer tribulation in this world.  But I must keep my eyes on my eternal life and focus on the Lord's Power, His Word, and His promises.  I can't ignore my tax problem, but I can take action according to my faith and belief in Yahweh, instead of reacting with fear and frustration.  When those doubts and unbelief begin to threaten my stability, I need only believe that He is greater than anything in this world.  Don't get swamped by unbelief -- focus on Who is in the boat with you!


March 21, 2015

Spreading The Good News

     Imagine my surprise when I received an email that asked, "How would you like to be on the radio?"  My first reaction was, "Are you sure you've contacted the right person?"  From the beginning of this blog, I have never considered myself as having "a ministry".  I was merely following a prompting I received from the Holy Spirit to reach out to people who, like me, were searching for God's meaning and understanding for the times in which we live.
     During the course of the nearly three-and-a-half years that I have been writing this blog, I have discovered that I was not alone in my search, nor was there a lack of desire to see God in our culture. That covered the "Salvation" part of my mission.  But, I soon discovered that the "Survival" component was just as compelling to people.  After all, even though this is our temporary home, we have to live on this earth during these turbulent times, and we must figure out how to survive -- and thrive -- and whether you believe in God or not, we are all in this together.  
     So, when presented with an opportunity to be a part of the new KNCS Christian Radio ministry, I was uncertain if I fit the profile of their station.  I certainly wasn't an ordained minister, as many of their segment hosts were; nor do I have a popular podcast, as other hosts can boast.  My blog is all about pointing the way to God in a world and culture that have veered off course ... is that what their  audience was looking for?  And I will admit that I struggled with how I would find the time for this additional task, since my days are full with writing daily commentaries, teaching a home Bible Study group, and assisting my husband in his business.  Could I, first of all, make the time; and then, secondly, could I do justice to the radio station's expectations?  Finally, would this endeavor be pleasing to God?
     Ultimately, I decided that I couldn't make it all about me.  That if God wanted to give me another chance to glorify Him, how could I say no?  The time would be there and I would do the best I could.  And I was really impressed with the mission of KNCS.  The purpose of this radio station is "to write, speak, sing and shout about God’s love!  [They] want to tell everyone how He has been working in lives, and [they] want to spread the good news about His wondrous love, and bring hope to every life."  We definitely had the same goals, so perhaps I wouldn't be such a bad fit, after all.
     But I want you to know about KNCS Radio --  a non-profit organization, out of Arvada, Colorado.  They are just beginning, and until they can get more material, their broadcast time is 6 am - 4 pm, Monday through Friday.  But they are finding their way by utilizing their ingenuity and creativity by working with Live365, an Internet radio broadcasting and listening network where users can create their own online radio stations, or choose to listen to thousands of human curated stations created by people from around the globe.  In other words, they have taken big steps in their desire to glorify God and present some truly different and inspiring broadcasts for listeners.  In this day and age, I applaud such commitment and dedication.
     So I urge you to listen in to the broadcasts.  I think you will be impressed with the professionalism and the inspiration you will receive from the various musical artists, pastors, and writers.  I am still finding "my voice", so to speak, as a radio broadcaster, and I promise that you will find more professional performances than mine.  But what I want you to take away from this new endeavor, is not my participation, but the encouragement I received in finding promising new enterprises who are engaged in the mission of spreading the Good News.  May God bless the endeavors of KNCS Radio and may their ministry grow and flourish.

If you would like to tune in to my segment, it airs at approximately 2:30 pm (Mountain Standard Time) on Monday afternoons.  And please check out all the fine programming at KNCS Christian Radio at http://ncsradioministries.net/ncsrmblog/.

2 Timothy 2:15   "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."
   

March 20, 2015

The Continuing War To Eliminate God From Our Military

     From the founding of this nation, God has been an integral part of our Military.  Read any of the writings of George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief, and you will know that he relied on God for victory.  In short, faith in God was an essential element among our fighting forces.  That same faith has seen our military through countless wars, including our own Civil War, and the World Wars of the 20th Century.
     That's why it is astounding to realize that it has been just 70 short years since the U.S. government has gone from printing, at taxpayer expense, editions of the New Testament and Psalms for Protestant soldiers serving in World War II, to attempting to silence the prayers of Christian chaplains and military leaders.  The latest case involves Navy Chaplain Wesley Modder, who has been a Chaplain in the Navy for almost 20 years. He has ministered to Navy Seals under fire in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been described in official reports as “the best of the best,” a “consummate professional leader.” He has been recommended for “early promote,” which is the “highest rating possible.”
     Yet, a Navy lieutenant junior grade, who was assigned to the chaplaincy while waiting further assignment, allegedly laid a trap for the well-respected Chaplain.  He appears to have been running his own private investigation into Chaplain Modder’s Christian beliefs and how they conflicted with his interpretation of proper tolerance for LGBT individuals.
     It seems that the Lieutenant JG hid his homosexuality from the Chaplain as the two discussed various aspects of Modder's Christian faith.  When Modder expressed his deeply religious convictions on the subjects, the Lt. JG lodged a complaint against him for being homophobic.  He was accused of not properly “comforting” those who came to him for counseling, and now he faces the possibility of being kicked out of the Navy for what amounts to a "perceived offense."  Modder denies that he has ever "religiously coerced" those who come to him for counseling.  At the same time, he has never shied away from responding to questions in counseling sessions “honestly and from a biblical worldview."
     So, how did we get here?  How have we come from a nation that embraced prayer for (and in) our military, to a nation that institutes laws designed to limit the presence of God among our fighting forces?  I find it incomprehensible, especially since the National Defense Authorization Act (FY, 2013) prohibits military personnel from requiring a chaplain to perform “any rite, ritual, or ceremony contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain.” The law also says the chaplain cannot be denied a promotion for such refusal.
     I guess you could say the anti-God agenda was further promoted in 2014, when the U.S. Congress told the Department of Defense that the Military Departments “will accommodate individual expressions of sincerely held beliefs” “unless it could have an adverse effect on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline…”.
     As it turns out, the commanding officer of the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command says Chaplian Modder is doing just that ... and has accused him of homophobia and insensitivity -- the official charge is "substandard performance".  The commander said his decision was based on the effect Modder's opinions would have on “military readiness, unit cohesion, health, safety, morale, good order, discipline, and mission accomplishment.”
     Specifically, the commander said that Chaplain Modder had failed to respond to the complainant under the core capability of chaplains to provide "care"; in other words, the Chaplain had failed to perform his duty "to be sensitive to the religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, and personal differences of those you serve."
     Does anyone else see the irony here?  Is the Navy being sensitive to the religious, spiritual, moral, cultural, and personal opinions of the Chaplain?  Or is the Navy's position that only the "different opinions" of the LGBT lobby need to be honored?  I guess that question is answered when you consider that the Department of Defense is now considering allowing transgendered soldiers to serve openly in the military and to pay for their sex change surgeries and hormone treatments.
     But I still fail to see exactly how Chaplain Modder -- or any religious person in the military, for that matter-- can negatively impact the military readiness, or the unit cohesion, or the morale of our armed services.  Instead, it seems to me that by attempting to eliminate Chaplain Modder's freedom to express his religious opinions and beliefs, we have a clear violation of his constitutional rights to religious expression.
     From the beginning of time, military campaigns have been waged with the presence of cultural gods.  Granted, many of them were fought by praying to false gods.  But the Bible clearly shows the Israelites experiencing both victory and defeat, all dependent on whether God was in their midst or not. If our Military continues down this path of giving recognition to the false gods of "tolerance" and  "sexual freedom", the road will only lead to defeat.  How long will it take to censor all the chaplains and remove them from service?  When that occurs, our military will cease to be ready, cohesive, healthy, safe, moral, or disciplined; and the true mission of the anti-God agenda will be accomplished.  Then victory will no longer be ours, but belong to the Enemy.

For more information on the story of Chaplain Modder, please click here.  To read the official charges brought by the Department of the Navy, click here. 

 Exodus 14:13-14     And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent."