A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Terrorism. Show all posts

September 11, 2021

Twenty Years Later ...


 The memories of this day are most likely burned into the souls of everyone over the age of 30. We all remember exactly where we were twenty years ago this morning. Every American most likely has a distinct memory of that tragic day ... the ash-colored faces of panicking people rushing to escape the falling Towers behind them; the grief-stricken families wandering the streets of New York City in the aftermath, holding photos of their loved ones and hoping beyond hope that someone would tell them their son/daughter/father/mother/spouse had been spotted among the injured; the courage of those brave passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, who knew they were most likely sacrificing their lives to save those at the U.S. Capitol; the images of NYC firefighters atop mountains of rubble continuing to do their jobs after 343 of their comrades died trying to rescue those trapped in the buildings. And that's not counting the tens of thousands who have gotten sick or died from recovery efforts at Ground Zero.

The pain and loss of that day extends [as well] over 20 years of war; to all the families of all the wounded and deceased combat members of our military who answered the call to stop decimate the evil that had attacked our country. It is difficult to get a final figure of those who paid the ultimate price, but to each family whose lives were forever changed, the only number that matters is the one who came home to them -- whether in a flag-draped coffin, or a shattered body that took months or years to put back together. And there are many more whose wounds are not visible to the naked eye. 

It is hard for me to fathom what our Father in Heaven thinks as He looks down on the consequences of decisions made over these past 20 years. I am aware that this stretch of two decades in our lives is but a moment on His divine timeline. And I know that there have been similar tragedies, atrocities, and wars throughout history. But my human mind asks, "God, where does it end"? Is the cost we've paid in human life, national treasure, loss of freedoms, and societal/cultural division worth it? "What is your perspective, Father"?

I know the Bible says there is a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:8). I know that God can lead us into wars that are righteous, but I also know that He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore (Isaiah 2:3-4). Oh, how we long for that time!

I don't have the mind of the Father, but I think I perceive the heart of Jesus, who desires that we love our enemies. That's a hard thing to do when Evil comes knocking at your door. And the Apostle Paul tells us to never take our own revenge, but leave room for the wrath of God. I believe that God is a God of Justice, and there will be judgment against all who act out of evil hearts. But how do we reconcile these last 20 years, and where do we go from here?

There have been considerable changes inner nation since that fateful day in 2001. We are not the same country in so many ways. The unity we experienced in the days immediately following 9/11 seems like a fleeting memory. The Enemy has done everything within his power to divide us along economic, social, political and spiritual lines. We have mocked God's authority in covenantal marriage; the assigning of gender to our children; and have desecrated what is holy. And that's saying nothing of the greed and arrogance shown by our government leaders and corporations. The media and many ministries have fallen prey unto tempting deceptions, and the truth is often hard to discern.

But, I also want to mention that there is an entire generation that wasn't born when this evil came to our country. It is important that we never forget all those that died on that day, and in service to this country, so that we teach them this history. Let us take to heart, Deuteronomy 4:9, Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 

And it is important to share the ideals that our flag stands for, and why it is important to so many when they see it flying high and proud. This latest generation needs to know it is about more than deciding whether to kneel or not at a football game. That flag represents the blood that has been shed throughout our 245 years of existence as a nation. We have been far from perfect and we have lost some of that national pride, and much more of our national identity, in the last 20 years. But I believe our God can return our hearts to Him and the purpose for which this nation exists. 

I could go on and on about all the ways that we, as a nation, and as a people have gone astray. It all comes down to this: We have defied the Living God, while deifying the unholy alliance among ungodly men and institutions. It may look as if we've gone too far to be redeemed, but we must never forget that God is always faithful. He keeps His Covenants, Promises, and Steadfast Love with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations, and repays to their face those who hate Him, by destroying them. Judgment and Vengeance are His!

So, 20 years later, I want you to know that we have much to look forward to. Do not look at the world ... yes, the Taliban is still in power; Israel is still under attack; and the threats against our country may be even greater than they were in 2001. But we are still here, and there is still hope! On this 20th anniversary of the greatest national tragedy in our lifetime, we honor our dead and those who have displayed the American spirit of courage, bravery, and service. We recognize that there is a faithful remnant who will not bow down to worship evil; nor will they flinch at their duty; nor abandon their post. We have been called to a holy calling, and we have been raised up for this time and this season to display the power of the Almighty God of the Universe! We must trust that He has gone out ahead of us to establish our steps, and that we will witness His shaking in the land. We will be given the strength to stand in courage and boldness as we proclaim His strategies and plans that will lead us to victory!

Do not believe the false images or the defeat that the Enemy is feeding our hearts, eyes, and minds. Seek the Lord! His face is not hidden! He honors our grief over September 1, 2001 and all the years in-between. The souls of those who cry out from beneath the heavenly altar [for justice] will soon receive it! And we must not be afraid of what is coming. Remember, our God goes with us and fights for us. When we pray in the Might and Power of the Name of Jesus, we will have the opportunity to see something extraordinary in our nation! So, let's honor those who have paid the price for unrighteousness in the land; stand against those who would destroy what this nation stands for; and then look forward to what the Lord can do when we believe [in faith] and set our eyes upon Him! Get ready to witness His Kingdom, Power and Glory!

Isaiah 28:5-6      In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of His people. He will be a Spirit of Justice to the one who sits in judgment, a source of strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate.

April 29, 2016

Don't Let Your Guard Down!

     What are you most concerned about these days?  If you listen to the media it should be all politics, all the time.  Every website, news program, and talk radio time-slot is consumed with this year's national elections.  I understand that our nation is standing at a precipice, and who becomes the next leader of the United States could well determine whether we continue in a position of power, or fade from history.  (By the way, the origin of that word precipice, is from late 16th Century Latin and denotes "a headlong fall" ... not very encouraging, is it?)
     I guess I'm asking because I'm starting to see people becoming more myopic; focused too narrowly on one thing or another that they hope will "fix" our nation and put us back on the path to greatness.  For some, that is hoping that a particular candidate will make good on their campaign promises and turn this big ship around.  For others, it is a big rally in the stock market, because their portfolio or bank balance is the barometer of their future security.  Still others know that these are not real solutions for what ails us, and they either turtle up and refuse to even think about the scary possibilities of the future, let alone take any steps to prepare for a different existence -- or they refuse to even entertain the thought that anything, or anyone, could defeat the mighty United States of America.
      And whether you are a person of faith or not, it seems to me as if we are all hoping, against hope, that we can escape what our very spirits and souls are telling us is imminent.  I am not trying to panic anyone or be a doomsday prophet.  I guess I am simply a realist.  As a Christian, I am secure in my eternal destiny; but I also know that this does not exempt me from having to face some very alarming situations in the present.  Recent events in Europe have shown us that our Western civilization is under physical attack.   Russian fighter planes are buzzing our Naval fleet in the Baltic Sea; coming within 30 feet of the ships' decks.  North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, ordered the country's nuclear weapons to be made ready for use at a moment's notice.  I think we can all agree that these are very real threats to not only our nation, but the world!  Yes, as individuals, there is very little we can do about the decisions made by world leaders.  But that doesn't mean we ignore them or fail to consider the consequences of such actions and how they might affect us and our families.
     These are examples of actions readily seen by the public eye.  What about covert activities being conducted outside the scope of public scrutiny?  Are you prepared for, or do you even think about, actions that could stealthily endanger you or your community?  Are you paying attention?  Or are you too focused on the big picture being orchestrated for you; or perhaps just the opposite, are you deliberately putting your blinders on and pretending everything is status quo?
     I suggest that we all get real, and begin paying close attention to what is going on around us, and here's the perfect reason why.... I am going to relate to you a very concerning situation that has come to my attention through a friend of my husband's who lives out-of-state.  I am not going to reveal any names or cities, because I want you to look at what I'm about to tell you with clear-sightedness; as if this could be any city in the country.  And believe me it could.
     This friend is the father of a daughter who attends an affluent private Christian school in a major city in the U.S.  Like any devoted father, he wanted to be involved in a meaningful way with the administration of his daughter's school.  Being a licensed firearms instructor, it was natural for him to become involved on the Security Committee at the school.  As the newest member, he wanted to become familiar with the team that had been hired to provide security for the school and its students.  (I am assuming that because the school is private and in an affluent neighborhood, they can afford to hire security teams, where public schools and perhaps less wealthy schools would not have this opportunity).
Wall of grief in Beslan
     You can imagine the concern that this father felt when he discovered that the private security team hired to protect his daughter's school was dubious, and the owner of the security firm raised some suspicions.  Now, before anyone accuses me of being bigoted or conspiratorial, I would remind you that this is a Christian school in an affluent American suburb.  If you can tell me that this would not raise a huge red flag for you, then I would like to remind you of the 2004 Beslan school siege (or massacre, as it was known in Russia), in which 1,100 people were taken hostage (777 of which were children), and 385 died.  It is the opinion of many security officials (and special forces operators) that Beslan was "the dress rehearsal" for more planned takeovers of schools.  If they are concerned, shouldn't we be?
     Why do I think that this friend and father has a right to be concerned?  Because our children are our most precious possessions, and the quickest way to bring this nation to its knees, and to rip our souls asunder, is to attack our kids.  Enemy terrorists only have to look at the response of our nation at any school shooting that takes place.  It rips the heart out of this country.
     In 2014, author William Forstchen wrote a book titled Day of Wrath, in which he painted an exceptionally vivid picture of this very scenario.  I read it and wrote a post about it, knowing full well that what Mr. Forstchen wrote as a fictional warning was very timely and necessary.  And if you think my friend is over-reacting about his daughter's security team, then I invite you to read the book (and the nearly 1200 customer reviews) and then tell me how you would feel if it was your daughter at that school.
     Believe me, I pray that the security team at this Christian school proves to be above-board, a team of consummate professionals, and everyone feels they are the right choice.  But God help us if the red flag that has been raised turns out to be valid.  All I'm saying is that we are living in times that are unprecedented and dangerous.  Our future in this world is precarious, and we cannot afford to be blindsided because we are letting down our guard.  Stay focused, tune in, and pay attention to what's going on around you.  Don't be afraid to ask questions and to demand answers.  And above all else, don't stop praying for God's Mercy on us!

1 Thessalonians 5:6     "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober."


December 2, 2015

What's In A Name?

     While I'm watching the leaders of the world put on their spectacle called "The Global Warming Summit", I want to take a little side trip to a topic that grabbed my attention over my break.  Even though the President states that climate change offers a threat equal to, or greater, than Islamic terrorism, have you begun to notice that he and a few of the media are beginning to use the term "Daesh" (pronounced variously as DIE-ESH or DASH) to refer to ISIS?  My first thought was, "Isn't it enough that we play this little word game between ISIS and ISIL?  Now we have to add a new name to the discussion?"
     Then I decided there had to be a specific reason that this name play is being propagated, so what is the theory and reasoning behind our President, the Prime Minister of Australia, and the various heads of Europe using it?  I found several articles -- all from the Western world -- which basically explained it this way:  Just as ISIS is short for "Islamic State in Iraq and Syria," or "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham," which is an old Arabic term for the area, and ISIL translates to “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant,” DAESH is supposedly an Arabic acronym for “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham”, which is what they call themselves.  It can sometimes be spelled DAIISH, Da'esh or Daech, a popular French version.  Confused yet?  (Personally, I don't quite see where you get the letters D-A-E-S-H from that Arabic phrase).  You will also read in the Western media that the reason DAESH hates being called DAESH is because it’s similar to the verb Daes, which means “one who crushes something underfoot".   It also sounds similar to Dahes, or “one who sows discord.”
     Another explanation for the use of DAESH in the West is that, depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can be an insult.  It can mean anything from ‘to trample down and crush’ to ‘a bigot who imposes his view on others' -- not exactly the high opinion that the Islamic Caliphate holds of itself.
    You can see why it's easy to attribute those meanings to the new name of the Middle Eastern threat... they make sense to our Western minds.  But then I happened upon an article by Alice Guthrie, an actual Arabic translator.  She attempts to school us, here in the West, about the real reason this new name is being used.
     Guthrie says that not only are these explanations wrong, but the same misinformation is being shared across the Western media -- sometimes word for word -- and it simply doesn't make sense.  To be sure, the acronym of ISIS can be seen in the term “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham” (Dawla = State; Islamiya = Islamic; Iraq = Iraq (naturally); and al-Sham = Damascus/Syria).  So, we can see where the word "ISIS" comes from; and can see the connection between DAESH and the Arabic verb Daes (meaning "one who crushes something underfoot"), but why would the self-proclaimed Caliphate give a darn what the Western world calls them?  Why are Leaders and media in the West so determined to add another acronym to their description?
     I'll ask the same question Alice Guthrie presents:  Why are the people it describes in such a fury about it? I will let Alice answer her own question:  "Because they hear it, quite rightly, as a challenge to their legitimacy: a dismissal of their aspirations to define Islamic practice, to be 'a state for all Muslims’ and – crucially – as a refusal to acknowledge and address them as such. They want to be addressed as exactly what they claim to be, by people so in awe of them that they use the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group, not some funny-sounding made-up word. And here is the very simple key point that has been overlooked in all the English-speaking press coverage I’ve seen: in Arabic, acronyms are not anything like as widely used as they are in English, and so Arabic-speaking people are not as used to hearing them as those of us in the West are. Thus, the creation and use of a title that stands out as a nonsensical, newly-coined word for an organization like this one is inherently funny, disrespectful, and ultimately threatening of the organization’s status."
     Guthrie goes on to explain that we must not dismiss the power of social media in the use of DAESH, as well.  The use of this word is part of a multi-pronged, diverse range of efforts by Arabs and Muslims to reject the terrorists’ linguistic posturing, their pseudo-classical use of Arabic, their claims to Quranic authority and an absolute foundation in sacred scripture, as reflected in their pompous name.
     So while the use of satire in the East is part of the proliferation of the use of DAESH to describe the self-appointed Caliphate, there is another aspect that the West tends to miss.  First of all, both the shape of the word and the combination of letters in it are suggestive of words from al-jahaliyya, the pre-Islamic Dark Ages or ‘age of ignorance’ that – as well as being a time rich in poetry and narrative heritage – has huge connotations of hideous barbarity in the popular Arab imagination, being the realm of jinns and monsters and evil spirits and marauding freaks.
     Another  equally important point is another reason why the new acronym is insulting: it’s an obviously fictitious name, for an obviously fictional concept. Once again, the Caliphate movement's claim to legitimacy as a state, and it's right to rule, is being rejected as nonsense, reflected in a fabricated nonsense name for them.
     So the real reason that the name DAESH insults the Caliphate is not just that the name makes them sound little, silly, and powerless, but that it implies they are monsters, and that they are made-up.  So can you see the frustration and confusion that surrounds the use of this new acronym?  The proper use of it in the Arab-speaking world is designed to insult and de-legitimize the terrorist organization.  But none of that is explained here in the West, and there is no sense of the intended mockery and derision.  So why even use it?  If we, the American and Western audience, don't fully understand the purpose of its use, doesn't the term DAESH tend to add more mystery and authority to these evil men?
     Ultimately, I guess the question becomes this:  will the application of the term in the West serve to damage their cause as much as it will in the Middle East?  I don't claim to know the answer to that, but I thought you should have a little more information about the terminology than we have received to date.  So, what is in a name?  In this case, it doesn't change a thing whether you call the Islamic terrorists ISIS, ISIL, or DAESH.... but, now, if you choose to call them by the latest moniker, you'll know WHY.

Ecclesiastes 7:1    "A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth."

November 20, 2015

The Veil Is Pulled Back -- But For How Long?

     Based on news reports in the U.K.'s Daily Mail, and our own national media sources such as Breitbart, The Blaze, and The New York Post, the threats of terrorism on our home soil are greater than ever before.  In fact, all these sources report that terrorist suspects have not only been arrested over the past 18 months, but officials are openly admitting that terrorists are crossing our borders, and are, as a matter of truth, already in this country.
     Why all the transparency and truth-telling, after so many months, and even years, of denying that the threat is real?  Has God pulled the veil of deception back for just a moment -- for one last opportunity for us to get this right?  It certainly feels like that as The Daily Mail reports that over the last 18 months, nearly 70 people have been arrested for ISIS-related terror plots, including a handful of so-called "refugees".
     The frightening aspect of these arrests is that they include such unlikely suspects as a young nurse, a pizza parlor boss and schoolgirls tricked into becoming shrouded ISIS brides. They also include a husband and wife team, both of St Louis, MO,  who face trial over allegations they gathered cash to buy military equipment for ISIS fighters in Syria; six Bosnian immigrants -- three from Missouri, two from Illinois and one from New York -- who conspired to support ISIS with money and equipment.  According to the US Attorney's office, three have become naturalized citizens of the United States, and the remaining three have either refugee or legal resident status.
     There are refugees from Kenya, Somalia and Syria.  There are homegrown Muslim converts, and even an Air Force veteran who is accused of joining the ranks of ISIS to wage war on the country he once served.  The bottom line is this... what we have all sensed for so long is now being revealed -- in spite of the continuous denials of those who are charged with keeping us safe.
     We are also now seeing representatives of the Middle Eastern communities in our nation revealing what they know.  The New York Post ran an article in which Aarafat “Ralph” Succar of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (and a member of the Bay Ridge Community Council) said that ISIS terrorists have “absolutely” sneaked into America by posing as civil-war refugees — and joined sleeper cells just waiting to be activated.  “I believe the terrorists from Syria have been coming into the United States, not only in the past few years, but way before that,” he said.  “I think they’re already at work.”  Who, of us who are awake, haven't instinctively known that?
     Then there is Breitbart.com, who is reporting that Border Patrol agents are now coming forward to report that groups of illegal Middle Eastern immigrants are crossing our southern borders.  Such is the case of the five Pakistani men and one man from Afghanistan, who were captured by U.S. Border Patrol agents after having illegally crossed the porous U.S.-Mexico border in the Tucson Sector of Arizona.  We also have the two federal agents operating under the umbrella of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), who are claiming that eight Syrian illegal aliens attempted to enter Texas from Mexico in the Laredo Sector.  The question is why such crossings in the past were not prosecuted by the Department of Justice, and were dismissed "due to circumstances?"
     I truly want to grasp on to the hope of yesterday's vote in the House of Representatives, which overrode the President's veto, in regards to strengthening the vetting process of Syrian and Iraqi refugees admitted into the U.S.   According to The Blaze, the measure, which in effect would suspend admissions of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, would require the FBI to conduct background checks on people coming to the U.S. from those countries. It would oblige the heads of the FBI and Homeland Security Department and the Director of National Intelligence to certify to Congress that each refugee “is not a threat to the security of the United States".
     But can we trust that show of defense on behalf of the American people?  Does this action on the part of Congress, in reality, speak of hollow promises -- especially in the light of testimony from foreign officials and intelligence officers that say there is no way to compile adequate information on any of these "refugees" from their home country?  Haven't we heard such words and rhetoric in the past that have given us a false sense of security?  Remember, the legislation still must pass through the Senate, and these bills have a habit of changing radically by the time they get to the vote.  And I think the aspect that bothers me the most is that those of us who are concerned about the possibility of a Paris-style attack (which has been promised by ISIS), are accused of somehow abandoning "age-old American values."  Is it against our values to want to protect the lives of our families and innocent victims?  Is it against our values to take a stand against man's inhumanity to man?  Is it against our values to be bold in the face of Evil?
     I am not exactly sure why it seems as if, for once, many of our leaders are refusing to play the politically correct game, and actually seem sincere in their warnings and desire to speak the truth.  How long will it last?  Will God have mercy on us; and will we, as a nation, turn to Him in repentance and hope?  I know that He can protect us, if it is His will -- even as the odds are stacking up against us.  He is Sovereign and Mighty in His power.  May He honor our obedience as we pray in the name of His Son!

Psalm 147:11     "The Lord favors those who fear and worship Him [with awe-inspired reverence and obedience], Those who wait for His mercy and lovingkindness."

November 16, 2015

How Do We Reconcile the World's Struggle With Refugees and Migrants?

     The nations of the world are grappling with the "problem" of refugees emigrating from the dangers of the expanding Caliphate in the Middle East.  Leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel maintains that no limits should be placed on the number of people allowed to enter her country; that European values of humanity and compassion in the face of terror need to be upheld.
     But the newly-elected government of Poland has announced their country won't accept migrant quotas imposed by the European Union.  And Dutch anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders says, "The only way to deal with it (the refugee crisis) is to regain our national sovereignty and close our national borders... We close our borders to migrants, not refugees."
     So, what does that mean?  What is the difference?  Actually, as The New York Times points out, there is a legal difference.    Briefly, a refugee is person who has fled his or her country to escape war or persecution, and can prove it.  More specifically, The 1951 Refugee Convention, negotiated after World War II, defines a refugee as a person who, “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”
     On the other hand, anyone moving from one country to another is considered a migrant unless he or she is specifically fleeing war or persecution. Migrants may be fleeing dire poverty, or may be well-off and merely seeking better opportunities, or may be migrating to join relatives who have gone before them.  So, in the face of the crisis in the Middle East and the onslaught of Isis's atrocities, you can imagine the political and social implications of these distinctions -- and the ensuing confusion.
     Under the 1951 convention, countries are free to deport migrants who arrive without legal papers, which they cannot do with refugees.  But complicating the immigration of refugees is what is known as "the Schengen policy".  Again, according to The New York Times, this is an agreement to abolish border controls among the European nations that have joined. For the most part, people in any Schengen country can travel freely to any other without stopping to show a passport or visa, just as travelers can between American states or Canadian provinces. Only when entering from outside the Schengen area are a traveler’s credentials regularly checked.
     So, once an emigrant from the Middle East arrives in Greece, and is registered, he is pretty much free to travel throughout Europe under this policy.  So can you see, in the wake of the Paris terror attack, just how significant it is that Greece is swamped with those seeking admittance into Europe.  In fact, the latest United Nations estimates show over 800,000 migrants have passed through the Mediterranean on their way to Europe this year, with 660,700 landing in Greece and 142,400 in Italy. Based on these numbers, it is not surprising that the Greek minister for Citizen Protection, Nikos Tosca, has announced that one of the Paris terrorists with a Syrian passport was "masquerading as a refugee".  And it just as understandable that leaders in countries like Hungary and Austria and Poland feel that the Greeks are not doing their job properly in securing Europe’s borders, but simply processing all that come, and sending them on into Europe.
     So don't you think that as a nation, the US should be very careful how we handle this thorny and dangerous issue of Middle Eastern refugees?  And do you see just how difficult a situation this is?  Naturally, the Middle Eastern Christians, who are being brutally persecuted for their religious beliefs come to mind when considering who should be allowed to enter our country.  But what exactly is the vetting process for all others?  If, as the news agency Reuters reports, our government is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon... shouldn't this be a major concern and raise some red flags?  In the wake of Paris, doesn't this qualify as a national security issue?
     As always, I try to see any situation from my Biblical worldview, and the Bible clearly tells us that, as Christians, we are to accept aliens into our land and help them to conform to our laws and our traditions.  In fact, the law of the Old Testament was that aliens were to be treated with respect and given aid. If things were so desperate in their home land that people would rather move to Israel and live under Israel's strict judicial and ceremonial law, the Israelites were to honor that desire.
     However, this does not apply to those aliens who enter a country for the purpose of crime or violence. The caveat God gave the Israelites regarding aliens is that they needed to obey the laws of the land (Leviticus 24:22), and the Israelites needed to make it possible for them to obey the laws of the land by giving them opportunities for sustenance (Leviticus 23:22). Aliens who came in to steal, fight, or draw the Israelites to other gods were to be disposed of quickly.
     You see, these same laws should be applied and followed today.  Careful investigation and evaluation is absolutely necessary!  But we can all recognize that the world is in crisis, and the sheer mayhem and chaos created by Isis and the schemes of Satan threaten to overwhelm our human abilities.  So, it is in humility and meekness that I approach God, asking Him to show us the way through His righteous and loving nature.  Let us welcome and give aid to those who truly desire it, and repel the wicked plots of our enemies who wish to destroy us.

Nahum 1:7    "The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him."

November 14, 2015

Please, Father ... Help Us To Understand!

It's still too early to make any kind of sense of the terror attacks in Paris, France, other than to say that with each new hour, the news is more devastating.   At this moment in time, all I want to do is plead for God's mercy on His people... and to pray.

Dear Heavenly Father,

     How it must grieve You to see how Man, made in Your image, can be so cruel and evil to each other.  In these first hours after the horrendous attacks upon the innocent people of France, my heart is shattered in pain, imagining the fear and the panic that must have been a part of all those people's last minutes on earth.
      Father, I pray that each one of those people had a personal encounter with Jesus before they breathed their last.  I know that is illogical and unreasonable to expect, but it just makes me realize how quickly lost are the chances of those who don't know Him ... and how much bigger will that burden of pain be for their families.
     And, Father, I have to be honest.  I admit that I don't know if I can ask forgiveness for those who perpetrated this evil.  Your Word says "they know not what they do".  I know they have been so blinded by hate, which does not come from You.  And I believe that their souls are full of demons.  How else can you explain the atrocities they committed against another human being; a person they did not even know?  And I am aware that our Enemy roams the earth, seeking whomever he can devour.  And it sure feels like he has consumed every ounce of You that might have remained in the monsters that robbed Paris of their peace last night.   But I know I must forgive, so I have to ask the Holy Spirit for the power to be able to do that, because I am unable to do so on my own.
     Most of all, I know my words sound weak in asking for comfort for those people left behind -- for the family members who are in shock and pain; for those who witnessed the carnage and survived; for those first responders who could not have been prepared for what they saw; and for law enforcement and the nation's leaders, who have to wonder if there was more that could have been done.  But, Father, I know that only You and Your Spirit can commune with our spirits; no human words or actions can heal the wounds and the damage done to our inner being.
     We were not made to experience such pain; that wasn't Your plan for us.  But from the first moment that Man listened to the lies of Satan, we have had to pay the consequences for our disobedience.  And the acceleration of lies, sin, and Evil that Your Word has prophesied was on display last night.  And, if there is one thing we know for sure, Father... it is not over.
     My spirit discerns the Apostle Paul's message to us in Ephesians 6, and that Satan has appointed a dark ruler to preside over France.  And I know assignments have been given to those who have pledged their allegiance to the Enemy's false promise of conquest.  So, Father, I intercede in prayer on behalf of all those who belong to You, and on behalf of those who still have a chance to know You... I ask you to send Your army of Heavenly Angels to battle against these rulers, against the powers, and against the world forces of this darkness -- both on this earth and in the spiritual realm.  I pray this in the Name of Jesus, knowing that it has supernatural power to effect the future.
     Because we are not intimidated; nor are we conceding defeat.  Because we believe in Your Sovereignty and Your Justice, Hope is what will soothe our pain and heal these ghastly wounds.  Jesus is our balm and our Physician, as well as the Sword of Your Vengeance.  While suffering the pain of those lost to Him, He will remain steadfastly in our presence and we will overcome this Evil.  Father, I pray that His tears will touch the heart of every person across the globe, and our spirits will unite in recognition of Your love for us and what Jesus's blood, shed on the Cross, has accomplished for each person who seeks to know Him.
     Father, accept these humble words on behalf of all those who love You.  We ask for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us forgive, and we thank You for the gift of Your Son, that we might know how to love each other... Father God, help us to love each other!  Amen.

John 11:35         "Jesus wept."

September 14, 2015

The Islamic Caliphate's Goal: A Global Hijrah?

    Last week, I published a post on the emotional subject of the humanitarian crisis in Europe caused by the thousands of Middle Eastern and African refugees fleeing chaos and murder in their homelands.  Today I am presenting the controversial side of this issue, which is likely to become a lightning rod for discussion and debate.  There should be none of us who are ignorant of the tens of thousands of emigrants leaving their countries for the safety and sanctuary of Europe.    This flood of refugees certainly appears to be the aforementioned humanitarian crisis, due to the thousands who have been uprooted from their homes because of violence, persecution and death at the hands of the Islamic Caliphate.  Among these refugees are Arab and African Christians who are targeted because of their faith, and have been threatened with death if they do not convert to Islam.  It is hard to argue with their reasons for leaving their homeland.
     But what of those thousands who are not Christians or families who have been forced to flee?  Have you ever wondered why the majority of them are young able-bodied Muslim men?  Where are the women, the elderly, or the chronically ill?  Why did they not choose to settle in Saudi Arabia or Iran or Turkey; countries that are larger than the over-crowded European countries and who practice their common Muslim faith?
     Robert Spencer, the director of Jihad Watch, has spent much of his life studying the Muslim religion, from which his family comes.  He has led seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, United States Army Command and General Staff College, the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, the FBI, the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the U.S. intelligence community. Spencer is the Vice President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and a weekly columnist for PJ Media and FrontPage Magazine, and has written many books and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism.  Mr. Spencer's credentials are lengthy and he is well-versed in the Qur'an.  From him, perhaps we can find the answers to the questions stated above.
     It is his goal to raise our awareness about the activities of the global jihadists; to call attention to the roots and goals of jihad violence within Islamic texts and teachings; and to show how jihadists use those texts and teachings.  Particularly, he wishes us to know that what we are witnessing across Europe is no longer just a “refugee crisis.” This is a hijrah.
     In an article on FrontPage Magazine, Spencer writes that Hijrah, or "jihad by emigration", is historically, and according to Islamic tradition, the migration or journey of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Yathrib, later renamed by him to Medina, in the year 622 CE. It was after the hijrah that Muhammad, for the first time, became not just a preacher of religious ideas, but a political and military leader. That was what occasioned his new “revelations” exhorting his followers to commit violence against unbelievers. Significantly, the Islamic calendar counts the hijrah -- not Muhammad’s birth or the occasion of his first “revelation,” -- as the beginning of Islam, implying that Islam is not fully itself without a political and military component.
     Spencer further writes that "to emigrate in the cause of Allah – that is, to move to a new land in order to bring Islam there -- is considered in Islam to be a highly meritorious act.  'And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance,” says the Qur’an.  And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him, his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah. And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.'  (4:100).
     He is now warning the world that a hijrah of a much greater magnitude is upon us.  What, in our Western eyes, looks like a humanitarian crisis (and which appeals to our faith's sense of mercy) may be in response to a February 2015 publication by ISIS, titled "“Libya: The Strategic Gateway for the Islamic State.”   The flood of refugees we are currently seeing across Europe is the expansion of the call by ISIS for Muslims to go to Libya and cross from there as refugees into Europe. This document tells would-be jihadis that weapons from [deposed Libyan leader] Gaddafi’s arsenal are plentiful and easy to obtain in Libya – and that the country “has a long coast and looks upon the southern Crusader states, which can be reached with ease by even a rudimentary boat.”  Isn't that what we have seen in the last few weeks and months?
     What Spencer writes next should have all of us questioning our own foreign policy regarding the Syrian refugees this nation is poised to accept.  He writes:  "The Islamic State did not have in mind just a few jihadis crossing from Libya: it also emerged last February that the jihadis planned to flood Europe with as many as 500,000 refugees. Now the number is shooting well beyond that in Germany alone. Of course, not all of these refugees are Islamic jihadis. Not all are even Muslims, although most are. However, no effort whatsoever is being made to determine the refugees’ adherence to Sharia and desire to bring it to their new land. Any such effort would be “Islamophobic.” Yet there are already hints that the Islamic State is putting its plan into effect: jihadis have already been found among the refugees trying to enter Europe. There will be many more such discoveries."
     Of course, to even suggest that there is an ulterior motive to this mass emigration is to be subjected to taunts of racism, and to be called hateful and an Islamophobe.  Yet how can we ignore the coordinated social media strategy of ISIS?  Spencer documents an Islamic State operative, who boasted last week that among the flood of refugees, 4,000 Islamic State jihadis had entered Europe. “They are going like refugees,” he said, but they were going with the plan of sowing blood and mayhem on European streets. As he told this to journalists, he smiled and said, “Just wait.” He explained: “It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah.”
     So, what are we to think?  Europe today, America tomorrow?  It sure looks as if that is their agenda.  But what are we to do?  How do we remain faithful to our God's commandments, yet protect ourselves from the Evil that is ISIS?  We are in the midst of a political season, and it is incumbent upon each of us to make our concerns known as we face an uncertain future.  The next few months and year will surely reveal the results of the far-reaching decisions we make.  May God and the Holy Spirit guide us; may we remain resolute and unfaltering in the face of Evil; and may YHWH Bless and Protect the United States of America!
John 3:20    "For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed."

August 25, 2015

The Legacy of Uncommon Courage

     It has been nearly 14 years, but if you are in your mid-twenties or older, you could not help but notice the similarities.  On September 11, 2001 a group of brave Americans jumped into action in an attempt to stop Islamic terrorists from murdering innocent citizens.  Again, just a few short days ago, on a train bound from the Netherlands to France, heroic Americans once again prevented what could have been a murderous rampage of defenseless individuals.
     The story of United Airlines Flight 93 should be burned into the consciousness of every American alive today.  If there is anything that could be called a success on that horrific day in 2001, it was the fight that the passengers took to the terrorists, foiling their plans to crash the plane into an unknown site, possibly the White House or the Capitol Building.
(left to right: Glick, Bingham, Beamer, Burnett)
     Time may have dimmed our memories of all the names, but it doesn't take but a moment to recall the actions of Jeremy Glick, Mark Bingham, Thomas Burnett, and Todd Beamer.  We know of their plan to storm the cockpit and either take the plane back from the hijackers, or drive it into the ground.  We know more about what went on in that plane because passengers were able to call family members, and they were informed that other planes had been hijacked and crashed into the Twin Towers and Pentagon.  We have more details about the plan to fight back and the subsequent struggle that when on between the Americans and the Muslims because Todd Beamer, in an attempt to reach his wife, had been connected to a GTE air phone operator, Lisa Jefferson.  They recited the Lord's Prayer Together and the 23rd Psalm, and then Ms. Jefferson heard Beamer say, "Are you ready? Okay. Let's roll."
     A similar narrative played out August 21, 2015 when three Americans battled an Islamic extremist hell-bent on murdering passengers on that high-speed train in Europe.  Only this time, they won the battle, and lived to tell their story themselves.  Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos were long-time friends on a holiday, dozing on that train, when U.S. airman Spencer Stone was awakened from a deep sleep, and turned around to see a man holding an assault rifle, which he said “looked like it was jammed and it wasn’t working.”  His friend, 22-year-old National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos “just hit me on the shoulder and said ‘Let’s go,”’ before moving in to tackle the gunman.  Skarlatos grabbed the gun, while the third friend, Anthony Sadler, joined in the brawl, and the three successfully beat the gunman into submission, with Stone putting a chokehold on him until he lay unconscious.
     The gunman was armed with a small arsenal, including an AK, a pistol, and the familiar terrorist tool, a box-cutter, with which he was able to stab Stone in the neck and slice at his hand and thumb (which was successfully reattached in a French hospital).  Stone is also credited with saving the life of a French-American teacher wounded in the neck with a gunshot wound and squirting blood. Stone said his military training kicked in and he "just stuck two of my fingers in his hole and found what I thought to be the artery, pushed down and the bleeding stopped." He said he kept the position until paramedics arrived.
(Left to right:  Sadler, Skarlatos, Stone)
     What a different outcome this might have been if those Americans had not been on that train and decided to step in.  But isn't it eerily reminiscent of the choices that those other Americans had to make?  Perhaps it has not escaped you that these young men would have only been about 8 or 9 at the time that Beamer and his companions selflessly gave their lives to save what could have decimated the ranks of America's leaders.  Yet, Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos are surely a legacy of that harrowing day 14 years ago.
     Two of them are members of a U.S. military that is still engaged in wars on multiple fronts against a branch of those same Islamic extremists.  We can argue about the effectiveness, success, or hidden political agendas of these wars, but there is no debate about the bravery and honor of our U.S. military -- or that of ordinary citizens, such as Anthony Sadler, a student.  Asked if there were lessons to be learned from this ordeal, Sadler had one piece of advice for all who find themselves faced with a choice such as theirs .... "Do something," he said. "Hiding, or sitting back, is not going to accomplish anything. And the gunman would've been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up. So I just want that lesson to be learned going forward.  In times of terror like that, please do something. Don't just stand by and watch."  For their acts of courage, the three young Americans received France's highest award, the Legion of Honor.  Whether they qualify for Purple Hearts, remains to be seen.
     But as we near the anniversary of September 11th, I hope we will renew our pride in the American spirit; that we will recall the extraordinary things that ordinary citizens are capable of doing in the face of pure Evil.  It also seems fitting to recall the words that former President George W. Bush spoke only a couple months after the 9-1-1 tragedy: "Some of our greatest moments have been acts of courage for which no one could have been prepared. But we have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, let's roll!"  And that's exactly what this latest generation of fearless young American men did as that train sped through the French countryside.  Americans need a little boost to our national pride these days ... not to mention that it feels so good to see Evil defeated!

Joshua 1:9    "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."


July 18, 2015

What Constitutes A "Link"?

     Once again our nation mourns the death of innocent citizens at the hands of someone with a radicalized agenda.  This time it seems as if our military was specifically targeted in Chattanooga, TN.  Yet, early statements by the FBI, which is investigating the attack, has stated that so far they had not established a link with terrorism.  Can someone explain that to me, please?  Because my understanding of a link is that it means there is some kind of connection, or an association, or a relationship between two things or situations or people; where one thing affects the other.
     So how is there not a "link" between the killer and terrorism in the wake of warnings that ISIS is calling for attacks against military personnel and installations?  And isn't there a link when the murderer blogs that life is a test "designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire"?  And, finally, isn't it reasonable to establish that there is some kind of connection when the Islamic State organization has publicly tweeted that we "American dogs will see wonders in Chattanooga"?
     I mean, look how little time it took the authorities to link the Charleston killer to the Confederate flag and label him a "domestic terrorist" motivated by his racist hate.  If the Charleston killer can be accused of being inspired by the "ideology of the Confederate South", why is it not reasonable to consider that the Chattanooga killer could have been "inspired" by the ideology of radical Islamists? If that is an acceptable explanation for the deaths in Charleston, how are the deaths in Chattanooga any different?  Until those who are elected to protect the nation are willing to face the truth of who our enemy is, then we are left defenseless against future attacks.  How can we defeat an enemy we are not willing to name?
     Already, there are hints of other possible "motives".  One profile of the killer paints him as a victim of "Islamophobia"; that somehow he was made keenly sensitive to the unfair slights against his religion and had become a victim of America's irrational fear of the Islamic faith.  These reports are now citing his sister's claim that she had faced discrimination and harassment at their high school because she wore a hijab.  She argues that "There’s this misconception that Islam is a violent religion. Muslims are actually peaceful."  Yes, some Muslims are peaceful.  But how can she deny that the Muslims and followers of Islam that have dominated the headlines over the last year with their endless beheadings and reign of terror are peaceful?  There has to be some honesty in this debate, and the truth is that many Muslims have radicalized their faith and are terrorists.  When you dance in the streets and call for "death to America", you are not peaceful.  Just because ALL Muslims have not taken the terrorist route, doesn't mean you can say NONE of them have!
     I find it so hypocritical that anytime an extremist Christian (and yes, extremists exist in all faiths) commits some abhorrent crime, the media and politicians are quick to rush to the microphone and point out how flawed, intolerant, hate-filled, and evil Christianity is.  But the only adjective that they want to apply to Islam is "peaceful".  When Islamic nations are labeled as "state sponsors of terror", then isn't it rational and logical to consider a "link" between these murderers and terrorism?
     As of yesterday afternoon, the narrative (at least on the ground in Tennessee) appeared to be changing.   Bill Killian, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, announced that, along with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, the "active shooter situation will continue to be investigated as a terrorist act, until the evidence proves otherwise.  We will let the facts take us where they lead us."  I pray they will be allowed to do just that, and that the truth will be shared with the American public.  That being said, I'm a little concerned that there is a verbal shell game being played.   I was a little puzzled with the attempts of the investigating team to mollify the public by insinuating a generic meaning to the word "terrorism", while warning that we not get "hung up" on getting specific as to what type of terrorism it is.  Is this the beginning of politically correct speech about the term "terrorism"?
     All we know for sure is that the investigation of this tragic situation is just beginning to unfold.  But as an American who emphatically supports our military personnel, I am heartbroken and weary of seeing our soldiers restricted from defending themselves by "gun-free zones".  How many Fort Hoods, and Washington Navy Yards, and Marine Recruitment Centers is it going to take before our military members are allowed to defend themselves?  It is unconscionable that they are made to act like sitting ducks!  As long as this insane policy continues, people will die.  Let there be an end to this madness and let the truth be declared!

Psalm 5:6    "You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man."

February 6, 2015

A Consuming Fire: The Tale of Two Religions

     The world is haunted by the video released by ISIS.  A captured Jordanian pilot was subjected to the barbaric act of setting a man on fire and then crushing his body with a bulldozer, along with the cage in which he was held.  It all seems so incomprehensible.  That is, unless you look at this horrific act through the lens of world history and religions.
     What I think we are seeing with this horrific act is the use of fire as a symbol of destroying or eradicating the enemy of ISIS, as well as purifying what they perceive as a disobedient Muslim.  Remember the pilot shared the same faith.  But he is not the only one who has felt the deadly flames of fire in the Islamic world.  The following report comes to us from Front Page Mag:  
     "Hundreds of women in the Muslim world have been murdered by fire in honor killings. The murders were often disguised as suicides or accidents. In the first six months of 2007, in Iraqi Kurdistan, 255 women were killed, three-quarters of them by burning. An earlier report cited 366 cases of women who were the victims of so called fire accidents in Dohuk in 2006, up from 289 the year before. In Irbil, there were 576 burn cases since 2003, resulting in 358 deaths. In 2006 in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq there were 400 cases of women burned. In Tunisia in May 2014 a father burned his 13-year-old daughter to death for walking home with a boy. In October 2013 a 15-year-old Yemeni girl was burned to death by her father for communicating with her fiancĂ©. In March 2009, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl, suspected of having a relationship with a boy, was burned to death by four male neighbors in her village in Ghaziabad, North India.  But this form of punishment is not reserved just for women ... In April 2011 three men were set on fire in Iraq for being gay. A video of that incident is easily accessible online. In June 2008, the Taliban burned three truck drivers of the Turi tribe alive for supplying the Pakistan Armed Forces. There have been numerous reports of Christians burned alive by Islamist jihadists. In November 2014 a Christian couple in Pakistan Sajjad Maseeh, 27, and his wife Shama Bibi, 24, were burned alive in a brick furnace after it was rumored that they had burned verses from the Quran. 'Bibi, a mother of four who was four months pregnant, was wearing an outfit that initially didn’t burn…… The mob removed her from over the kiln and wrapped her up in cotton to make sure the garments would be set alight.' These incidents are rarely reported by the mainstream media and were difficult for most people to comprehend as real until ISIS started filming documentaries of their ritual murders."
     Did you notice the operative word in that last sentence?  It is RITUAL.  Fire and Ritual are an important part of all world religions; even our own Christianity.  The Lord God Jehovah even appeared as a blazing fire in the midst of a bush!  In this case, Fire communicates the very presence of God.  The first Believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire rested upon their heads.  This is our God at work.
     In fact, YHWH uses fire for many purposes in His redemptive work.  He uses fire as a defense for His divine love and protection; a covering, if you will (Isaiah 4:5).  He uses fire as a means to make amends (or atonement) for sins (Leviticus 16:27).  Our faith tells us that God will use fire as a means of transforming the earth in the Great Day of the Lord (2 Peter 3:10).  But perhaps the most identifiable attribute of God to us Christians, is its purification aspect.  We will all be subjected to the "Refiner's fire" when we stand before God to measure our efforts on behalf of His kingdom. (1 Peter 1:7).  Each of these applications of fire is a picture of God's mercy; of how much He loves us.
     But I'm sure that the members of ISIS would say they use fire to purify their religion, too.  But there is one huge difference:  They use fire as a form of retribution, punishment and revenge for those they decide have been disobedient.  Where is the restoration of the individual?  YHWH uses fire to sustain the lives of those who follow Him; purifying them even as the fire dissolves their sins and rebellion.  The end result is a new life; a renewed spirit of allegiance to the God who created them.
     But as Front Page Mag points out, the ritual burning of the Jordanian pilot does not purify the faith of Islam.  Instead it "symbolically unleashes an epidemic of contagious evil ... Ritualizing the violence justifies it and makes it sacred."  And now comes the report from the the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, who said it has received reports regarding ISIS and "several cases of mass executions of boys, as well as reports of beheadings, crucifixions of children and burying children alive." Where is the honor in this?  How does this serve to glorify their religion or their god?
     So, as I see it, here's the bottom line ... the goal of ISIS appears to be to take over the Islamic religion and "purge it" of its "unclean" members. But what is the final outcome?  We see death, destruction, fear, and utter ruin.  Christianity, on the other hand, also acknowledges the need of its members to be "purified" or "cleansed".  But the goal of the consuming fire of our faith is to renew a life and make it new; it is the sin that is destroyed, not the flesh and blood person.
     Those far smarter than I, have stated that the video of the Jordanian pilot's murder was sent around the world as a symbol of an Islamic purification ritual that serves vengeance, and restores honor and purity to the community of believers.  The difference is, my faith preaches love among its fellow members; and honors and glorifies our God, rather than the community of believers; and ultimately, leaves vengeance to the Almighty God of the Universe.
     At the heart of the matter is this:  two consuming fires; two religions with vastly different interpretations; and only one that treasures each created life.  We are to pray for those who wish to persecute us.  As hard as that may seem in the face of such inhumanity, I suggest we put that at the top of our priority list.

Matthew 5:44-45     "But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]."

January 17, 2015

What Are We Afraid Of?

     After nearly a month without Fox News, due to their feud with Dish Network, I must admit that it was kind of nice to take my eyes off scripted news reports and discern my own perceptions of world events.  So, as I cautiously returned to Fox's version of the news yesterday morning, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to see the same old reluctance to tell the truth.
    The anchor, Bill Hemmer, was informing the audience that ISIS in Iraq had released a new round of propaganda photos, and he warned us that, not only were they graphic, but that Fox had made the decision not to show the most disturbing ones.  He then followed his advisory with three photos:  two men who had been crucified after being convicted of a theft; a woman being stoned on the grounds that she committed adultery; and an image of a hooded man being thrown from a roof for being gay.  The faces were all blurred or blocked out.  I guess these images were deemed "acceptable" by the media giant.
     But PLW and I were both disgusted by what we saw as the cowardice of Fox News -- and all media, for that matter -- for refusing to present the truth.  ALL of these sentences were carried out as a result of Sharia Law.  That part of the story was never told.  I guess the narrative they wanted to present was "This is the action of a radicalized version of Islam".  But I have a real problem with that rendition of "the news"... it is not the complete truth.  These actions by ISIS are the implementation of Sharia Law, which is a primary tenet of the faith of Islam.  It is the moral code and religious law of that ancient religion.  That begs the following questions:  "Has Sharia Law been corrupted?"; "Do all followers of Islamic faith adhere to Sharia Law?"; and "Will Muslims denounce these actions being perpetrated in the name of Sharia Law?"  Don't you think this is part of the discussion we should be having to help determine the true nature of the threat against us?
     Here are some of my further thoughts:  First of all, by refusing to show the untouched versions of ALL the horrific images, the media is attempting to sanitize the images; and in so doing, they diminish the full impact of ISIS's demonic actions.  While the media hesitantly declares these acts evil, and the need to defeat these enemies of the West, I want to shout at the TV, How do you defeat something you are not allowed to see or watch?  Ignoring these images, will not make them go away!
     But before we can defeat this enemy, we also need to come to terms with the fact that this battle is spiritual in nature, as well.  The army of ISIS is very real ... don't get me wrong!  And Sharia Law is their goal; their methods of forcing their ideology on the world are physical and brutal.  They are flesh and blood.  But we cannot deny, nor ignore, that this is a battle that wages in Heaven, as well.  Satan is simply repeating his age-old system of destruction.  As long as he can continue to deceive man, and influence groups like ISIS, his plan is working.  I guess I'm naive to think that the media could recognize that.
     So, it all plays nicely into the hands of those who wish to destroy us.  ISIS's propaganda message then becomes:  There's no place to hide; you might as well submit (to Sharia Law), or else this is coming to a neighborhood near you.  They've certainly made those threats clear.  We saw it in Paris, last week.  And there's no counterpoint from the media!  Every terrorist attack seems to be reported as an isolated event; and if a connection is made between ISIS and Islam and their presence in the West, there is a reluctance to call them the Enemy, or a rush to reduce the significance of their recruitment success.  And the merits of faith and corrupted religion are never mentioned.  Why are they afraid to portray the truth?  I can't help but believe that it is all orchestrated -- the mainstream media invent the truth, and leave social media to distort the truth, creating a muddled mess of flawed reporting and distorted discussions -- resulting in a populace that is unable to effectively organize or coordinate a defense against its earthly -- or spiritual -- enemy. 
     I could go into a long discussion of the spiritual warfare in which we find ourselves engaged; of the spiritual wickedness found in the powers and principalities that rule earthly leaders from the supernatural (heavenly) sphere.  But the American people don't want to hear that.  They haven't even been diligent in demanding the truth about what's going on before their very eyes!  I would submit that we've been waiting since 9/11 for the world to get on the same page and admit who our enemy is; but Satan has been successful in disguising his players and dissuading us from any spiritual discernment.  And look what we have reaped from allowing ourselves to be so deceived.  
     Unless the people of the earth throw off the shackles of fear and the false mantra of tolerance, Evil will not be abated.  It is growing; spreading and becoming more virulent.  How do we counter it? We must first see it for what it is, and remove the veil from our eyes.  And we are not to repay evil with evil.  (I know that is difficult for a lot of people).  But we must shower the throne room of God with prayers for our enemies; as Paul says, "in so doing, we will heap coals of fire upon their heads" -- not in an act of vengeance, but as an instrument of God's will to melt the hardness of their hearts.  Can we possibly turn this tide of obvious wickedness?  Only with God's help.  Even in the midst of such horrors, God will use this Evil for His purpose; to bring us to our knees, and to shine His light into the midst of the Darkness.  Seek the Truth and stay focused on Him!

1 John 1:6    "If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth."

January 12, 2015

Critical Crossroad

     It seems to me that mankind is at a turning point.  Among the latest news coming out of France is the statement that Islamic jihadist "sleeper cells" have been activated in the country.  Police have been asked to avoid internet communication and to keep their weapons close at all times.  Along with these alerts, we are hearing from international experts that the tide of violence we have seen in France will soon be promulgated worldwide.
World leaders head the march in Paris
     Frankly, those of us who know our Bibles have been wondering when the world would come to this conclusion.  The signs have been there for so long.  Don't misunderstand me; I am thankful that the political correctness seems to have abated (at least for the moment) and that people in positions of power are willing to tell the truth.  At least, there seems to be no hesitation in mentioning the word "terrorism", or laying the responsibility directly at the feet of radical Islam.
     It has been somewhat encouraging to see Muslims begin to speak out against the monstrous acts of barbarians who claim to represent the faith of Islam.  I applaud the leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas -- both designated terrorist groups by the U.S. State Department -- for condemning the actions of the Paris, France murderers.  Other Muslim religious leaders have also called the killings over the last few days a "heinous crime", and "reprehensible and ugly and violent and inhuman and brutal practices … [which] have insulted the messenger of Allah and the religion of Allah and the prophets and the book of Allah and the nation of the Muslims more than his enemies insulted him."
      It was heartwarming to see an estimated 1 million-plus people in the streets of Paris, marching arm-in-arm, in solidarity against terrorism.  The leaders of Western nations, along with Muslim countries, and the Prime Minister of Israel, led the march through the streets of Paris.  Conspicuously absent was any important representative of the United States, and I suspect that will make headlines for days or weeks to come.
     But it was the common man who made the largest statement by their presence.  As reported by Reuters, "Some commentators said the last street presence in the capital on this scale was at the Liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany in 1944."  It is eerie to consider that this connection was made, considering that one of the attacks was directed at a Jewish Kosher market in the heart of Paris, and resulted in four dead, and four critically wounded.
     Yes, it is good to see righteous anger against the ruthless killings, and an apparent awakening to the threat of a radical ideology that has declared war on the world.  But is it too little, too late?  And can the tide of mayhem really be stopped?  Already, there are other marches in Europe, conducted in the same of open societies and tolerance.  And, once again, if you believe in what the Bible tells us, we know that an unholy hell is going to be unleashed against the Jewish people, and those who are followers of Jesus.  The threats are there; out in the open, for all to see.  Anti-semitism is on the rise in Europe.  A war has been declared against us "infidels", and -- I don't mean to sound cynical -- but one million people marching in the street will not change the course this world is set on.
Millions rally in Paris against terrorism
     We are at a critical crossroad!  The world has come together to voice their weariness and opposition to the brutality against their fellow man.  But that is not enough!  Can there be further agreement that we need to renew our covenant with the God of the Universe?  Unless the peoples of the world recognize that the only way out of the debacle before us is to recognize Yahweh and fall to our knees and ask His forgiveness, then I'm afraid that the show of solidarity, all the good speeches, the declaration of war against terrorism, and the tolerance amongst religions and governments will not stop the speeding train that is edging the world towards annihilation.  You see, while all those solutions are good, they are temporary.  That is putting our trust in man to solve our sinful nature.
     But, can you imagine millions of people in all the streets of the world, marching and praising God, and asking for deliverance from this Evil that is threatening us all?  Which march is more likely to actually have an impact on the schemes of the Enemy?  Only God can interrupt the eventual conflagration, and grant us a delay in what will surely be increasing episodes of violence, terror, and suffering.
     All of mankind is at a point where a crucial decision must be made that will have far-reaching consequences for the inhabitants of earth.  We can fall to our knees and change our direction, or we can continue to stiffen our necks and follow the same path.  Prayer is our guide to making the right decision and avoiding more destruction and death.  Now is the time to get in step with God!

2 Chronicles 15:4    "But in their distress they turned to the LORD God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him."


January 8, 2015

The Canary in the Coal Mine

     The history of Europe has been long and storied.  It includes classic antiquity and the influence of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.  During the Middle Ages, the Eastern Roman Empire spawned the Byzantine Empire, while the Western portion of Roman lands would emerge as their own kingdoms in the form of nations such as France, Germany, and the British Isles. 
     As history progressed through the Viking Age and what historians call the High Middle Ages, you can see the emergence of nations like Poland, Hungary, and Croatia; along with the rise and fall of the Mongol and Ottoman Empires.  The Renaissance saw unprecedented growth in science, theology, religious wars, and political revolutions.  One can see the changing landscape of national boundaries through the era of "World Wars" in the 20th century, as well as the rise, fall, and resurrection of the economic/political system called communism.  (You can see a fascinating recreation of 6013 years of changing European boundaries in this 3-minute video).  Currently Europe is attempting to remain united under a faltering compact called the European Union.  But there are cracks in the cement of this coalition.  
Supporters of the newspaper staff who were murdered in Paris.
Sign reads "I am Charlie".
     Two primary fractures are apparent in the form of anti-semitism and radical Islam.  Just yesterday, the world witnessed the outrageous murder of a French newspaper's staff because they dared to ridicule a religion, which claims to be one of peace.  For the editor, Stephane Charbonnier (of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo), who had been threatened before about cartoons critical of the faith, it was a question of free speech.  Even though his name was among those on an al-Queda "hit list", he remained adamant to the end, declaring "I prefer to die standing than to live on my knees."
     France is not the only European nation to find itself engulfed in a battle for a free civilization.  The growing Muslim populations in European countries have led to a rising conflict between cultures and vocal protests against the increasingly radicalized Islamic citizens in Sweden, Denmark, Greece, and now Germany.  Ultra-Nationalism is becoming a greater influence, which has resulted in the rise of nazism and the ugly threat of anti-semitism.
     Only 70 years since the most horrific murder of 6,000,000 Jews in the Holocaust, the world once again is seeing the evidence of prejudice and persecution of Jews in Europe.  But this time, the hatred of Jews is not only coming from ultra-nationalist factions in the political arena, but from the growing Muslim population in Europe.  That's what makes this new antisemitism even more dangerous, if that were possible.  
     Since the year 2000, there has been a steady increase of physical assaults against Jews including beatings, stabbings and other violence.  Pro-Palestinian rallies across Europe have resulted in shouts of "Death to the Jews" and "Gas the Jews", as well as graffiti expressing similar threats.  People have been killed at the Jewish Museum in Brussels, Belgium; and Jewish businesses and synagogues in Paris, Italy, and Germany have been destroyed.  The truth is that Jews are not feeling safe in Europe, and while these circumstances may eerily resemble the climate of Europe before Hitler's "Final Solution"; in reality, it is much worse.  The Jews find themselves a target of the confluence of political rhetoric, socialist ideology, and religious fanaticism.  And it is all fueled by the immediacy and emotional impact of social media. 
     But, if you are a Bible-believing follower of Jesus Christ, you should not be surprised or caught unawares of this firestorm.  We see the world's rising hatred against God's chosen people, and we know why.  We see the increasing forces of evil coming against civilized man, and we know why.  We see the wars, and rumors of wars; we see the battle over the holy city of Jerusalem; we see the earthquake swarms (11 in Texas in the last 24 hours!), weather anomalies, martyred Christians, diseases and plagues .... and we know why.
      And in the midst of it all, we see what Jesus called "the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity".  But what are we to do?  It's simple.  We endure and we preach the Gospel.  The rest is up to God; and believe me, He will take care of it.  He says He will.  Until then, we have been given the warnings and we should not be unprepared for what is coming. 
      You know, I find myself not so much fearing those final days of spiritual trouble, as much as I feel apprehensive about the "worldly" issues -- the uncertainties of income, the wondering when the economic collapse is coming, or how to deal with rising prices and lack of resources.  I know the ways of this world are temporary and meaningless; and I want nothing more than to be out of this worldly system.  At the same time, I strive to count it all joy, and willingly suffer as Christ did.  I know my spiritual strength and that God abides in me; I know my eternal life is secure.  
     But I worry about friends and family, and how this coming storm will effect them.  Most of all, I am concerned for my Jewish friend, Ophir, who lives in the heart of Jerusalem.  She is a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, and is a single mother with four small children, all under the age of nine.  The oldest, beautiful Liya, has Down's syndrome, and her youngest son is only 18 months old.  I pray for their safety and that it will not be wintertime when they are forced to flee Jerusalem.
     So, I see clearly what is on the horizon.  It cannot be avoided as we look at the headlines coming out of Europe.  It is ugly, and it is a warning of the tribulation to come.  But, as it is written in Scripture: ... "When you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of a surety that He is near, at the very doors."  As disturbing as the signs are, they are both a warning of the evil to come, and a beacon of hope for our deliverance from this wicked world.  Maranatha!  

Revelation 22:20    "He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"