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

Showing posts with label World Events. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Events. Show all posts

September 9, 2022

Is Queen Elizabeth's Death A Prophetic Sign?

For awhile now, I have been watching the disintegration of Europe. I'm not a political science expert and I don't study the theory and practice of international politics and government, but it doesn't take a genius to recognize that the world is coming unhinged and Europe is on the verge of collapse. And then there are the times that the Holy Spirit is very direct at pointing me to events He wants me to see. So, not knowing what each day will bring, I was surprised to hear the news announcement that Queen Elizabeth's health was failing. It didn't take long to realize that she was probably on hospice, as the royal family began congregating at her bedside. But it was literally only a few hours after the initial announcement before her passing was made public. Immediately, my spirit was alert, and I knew this was a prophetic sign for all of Europe.

As I meditated on this thought, I heard in my spirit, "Elizabeth has passed away. Europe is next. Europe will fall". In my mind I tried to substitute the word "fail" instead of "fall", because I think my flesh thought "fail" didn't sound so final, as if Europe might possibly be blessed with a revival of fortune or a rebirth. But I could not convince my spirit to agree ... no, I definitely heard "fall". But what does that mean? I confess that I am still trying to hear in the spirit what the aftermath of this possible prophetic sign might look like. 

All the while, the clues are laid out for us quite clearly. The euro, which is the official currency of 19 of the 27 member states of the European Union, is on the verge of collapse. But a collapsing euro will affect our country as well. When the European currency is strong, it helps make American exports cheaper in the Euro zone. A deep recession in Europe and the collapse of the Euro zone will also affect US banks, whose balance sheets contain government bonds bought from financially unstable European states. In fact US institutions are heavily invested in securities and credit-default swaps with European banks.

And that's not the only thing in Europe on the brink of collapse. Europe is suffering a collapse of their energy resources. Exploding energy prices are affecting France, Germany, and Britain with some costs predicted to rise as much as 200%. Poland is giving its citizens permission to forage in the forests for firewood because energy prices are unaffordable. Europe is also feeling the effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war. According to a report on wnd.com, "This week the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Ukraine’s nuclear plant, the largest nuclear facility in Europe, has suffered damage as part of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Last week, the Russian energy giant Gazprom announced that it would not recommence European gas deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline." So Europe is facing a dire energy crisis as well, just as winter looms. Add to these crises, the growing whispers of "widespread civil unrest" across Europe due to the higher cost of living, the added burden of illegal migrants, and the threat of more devastating lockdowns due to new virus threats, and one can see that the future of Europe, and hence the world, is looking bleak.

So, is the death of Queen Elizabeth II, whose reign was a symbol of comfort, continuity, and stability in the midst of a rapidly changing world, a prophetic sign indicating that balance and security is going to fall away? I want to make it clear -- I do not see myself as a prophet; certainly not in the sense of Biblical prophets that history shows spoke as God directed them to warn of Judgment and impending captivity. But I do believe that I am to be a Watchman on the Wall; that I hear God's message to people to warn them to repent of their sins; to warn them of the consequences of sin as well as to motivate people to stay firm in their faith. A Watchman is able [as God makes possible] to receive a unique vision of world events and to encourage people that God is Sovereign, and desires men to turn back to Him and live Godly lives. 

And I don't have to look long in the Bible to see how quickly the fates of nations and peoples can change... sometimes virtually overnight. I'm not claiming that what I heard in my spirit on the morning of Queen Elizabeth's death will take place overnight, but I only have to look at 1 Thessalonians 5:2 to know the possibilities that exist: For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the [return of the] Lord is coming just as a thief [comes unexpectedly and suddenly] in the night. A simple event can trigger a series of dominoes to fall, resulting in world turmoil -- an event such as lack of confidence in a nation's financial system [due to the collapse of a currency]... or the death of the longest-serving monarch in the 315-year history of Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth II. We only need to look at the assassination of Austrian Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 to see how quickly that event caused the world to descend into the chaos of WWI.

But we must never forget that it is God who establishes the courses that nations will take. It doesn't mean that He controls every aspect of a nation's activities. We know that the Bible says Satan will intervene, and nations will rise up in turmoil against God; the people will devise vain and hopeless plots; the kings of the earth will make their stand; and rulers will take counsel together [against God], but ultimately, if their plans are not in agreement with God's divine plans, then these nations will fade away [or fall overnight] from the world stage. Historically, that was the case for ancient kingdoms and powerful empires: Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, [all of the Bible]; and Mongolian, Russian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese Empires of our modern history books.  

It is said that Queen Elizabeth is among the last of the world's royal monarchs to publicly declare her faith. In her 2000 Christmas message she said, ""For me, the teachings of Christ and my own personal accountability before God provide a framework in which I try to lead my life... I, like so many of you, have drawn great comfort in difficult times from Christ's words and example."  So, we must wait and see what [or if] the death of Queen Elizabeth will result in the further decline of professed faith in God from an increasingly secular world. I, personally, will wait and watch if what I heard in my spirit was a prophetic warning of a precipitous event that signals another move on the timeline towards the Day of the Lord. I will pray that I continue to be sensitive to God's voice because I know His timing and will are perfect. And may we all remain in worshipful reverence and submissive wonder at His power and authority over all the kingdoms of the earth!

#queenelizabeth #propheticsigns #hearingfromthelord #watchmanonthewall

Psalm 2:10   Now therefore, O kings, act wisely; Be instructed and take warning, O leaders (judges, rulers) of the earth.

July 4, 2016

The Power of God: A Personal Testimony

This post represents the reflections of a very good friend of mine, who just recently returned from a mission trip to Europe and the refugee camps.  She is a young Millennial and has such a heart for Jesus, vowing to go wherever He sends her in order to share Him with the world.  She began her journey in Brussels, went on to Moscow, and as God would have it, received an opportunity, at the last minute, to alter her itinerary before heading back home to the U.S.  It was here, the last five days that she spent in the refugee camps in northern Greece, that she says changed her life.  Considering my post from yesterday ... if you want to know how we Christians can be the salt of the earth, just read what she has to say:

     While standing barefoot on the gravel in between tents in a refugee camp in northern Greece, two little girls, Afghani sisters, walked up to me, gave me hugs, and eventually I had to say goodbye to them. Thinking about that moment [now], I am in tears because it is so hard to leave a place where so many people are living in devastation and so little is being done to help them.
     After spending six weeks overseas, five of those days in Greece, my perspective on life has shifted. Millions of people just like you and me are having to flee their homes (which likely have been leveled). These people are engineers, business men, and students who may never finish school; hardworking people who used to live normal lives, and now live in tents, lucky to have a bed.
     It's almost 100 degrees there, no air conditioning in the camps, the toilets and showers are filthy (for many the conditions are worse in the camps than they were in their home countries), they have limited clothes, and most are in the middle of Ramadan, fasting all day.  The borders are closed now, so these people are beginning to have to accept that they may never leave Greece. The thought of landing back in the States while these people are stuck in a situation that is not only uncomfortable, but deadly for many, is heartbreaking.
     I wish the world could understand that there are many people suffering on earth right now while the rest of us go on with normal everyday life without even a thought of those people. The refugee crisis is being called the biggest humanitarian crisis since World War II, but somehow it still surprises people when I tell them why I was in Europe. It's my prayer that our eyes be opened and see people the way Jesus sees people.
     (One major takeaway from my time in Greece is that God is moving in the refugee camps. This shouldn't be a surprise since God shows us over and over again in the Bible that He is present and near to comfort those who mourn, and provide for those in need.)
      I had the privilege of being invited into the tent of a sweet Syrian family on my first day in the camps. The cultures that the refugees come from are some of the most hospitable I've ever seen. This family offered us coffee, water, tea, and fruit, when really they were the ones who needed it! One of the daughters, Zeinah, interpreted for us so we got to ask them questions about their lives, pray healing over her because she was sick, and then share with them a little bit about Jesus as we know Him.
     Near [the time] when we had to leave, with their blessing, we prayed for them all to encounter God (their hands in an open position to receive).  It was so cool that they let us do that because they knew we were Christians! As we were leaving, I asked Zeinah if she could ask the family if any of them had had a dream of a man in white before.  One of the other daughters, Rima, who is 22 years old responded that she had. She described the man as dressed in a white robe to his feet, standing on green grass, and handing her water. She could not see his face because it was too bright.
     I opened my Bible to Revelation, Chapter 1, and read to Zeinah the description of Jesus there ("like a son of man", dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.)  Zeinah translated it for Rima, and then looked at me with a smile and said, yes, that is who was in her dream! I excitedly told her that the man in her dream was Jesus, and that she must tell Rima that in the Bible Jesus calls himself the Living Water ...  and just how we need water to live, we need Jesus all the more. I had to leave then, but Zeinah assured me that she would tell Rima that her dream was about Jesus. My prayer is that Rima and her family would continue to have dreams of Jesus and come to know the Man who is pursuing them in their dreams.
     This is not only happening to this family, but Muslims everywhere are reporting having dreams of this "man in white".  Jesus is pursuing the Muslim people in their sleep, and entire families are getting saved across Europe because of it. The power of God is the only way that someone will have [such] an encounter with God, but He is using His people to convey the message of the Gospel ... the Good News of Jesus.
      I also got the chance to sit in a tent with seven Muslim-background men, six of which were Afghani, and one was a Syrian Kurdish man. One of the men was interpreting for us and we were just chatting with them. We found out that the Syrian man in the room had been baptized in the name of Jesus the week before, along with four other men and has been reading his Bible ever since! Another man in the room was holding a Farsi New Testament that he was going to start reading later that day. These people who have never had the opportunity to hear about Jesus as their Savior are hearing about Him for the first time.  And because there is nothing else for them to do with their time, they love listening to our stories about Jesus and are happy to read the Bible!
      As I've been reflecting on my time in Greece, and what God is doing there, and in all of Europe with the refugees, what I feel like God is calling me to do now is to pray for the refugees and the workers who are there, and to educate people here about the crisis through my direct experience.

     This is the testimony of my faithful young friend, who is able to set aside her differences with people of different faiths and nationalities to see people as Jesus sees them ... people that He created; people who desperately need to know Him as the world deteriorates into chaos and lawlessness.  
     She approached her calling from Jesus with no fear; only excitement, and as she wrote me, "an expectancy for what God is going to do in us and through us as we interact with the refugees."  Note that she didn't say she was "hoping" that God would work in her and through her, but she was "expecting" it!  That is more than youthful optimism.  That is faith in the power of God, and comes from a trust and confidence rooted in her spirit; a spirit that is supernaturally connected to her Creator.
     So, now we have to come to terms with the spiritual aspects of this world.  Can you see that the Enemy wants us to concentrate on the very real danger of Muslim extremists, who are used as instruments of wickedness and perhaps, judgment?  But at the same time, can you see that Jesus is still moving and ministering in the world; even in the midst of refugee camps that very likely contain men intent on carrying out more evil? The recent attacks on a restaurant in Bangladesh remind us that Evil is ever present. 
     And the Bible tells us that, along with this wickedness, mankind will not escape the humanitarian crises that my young friend witnessed.  Earth has become the battleground for the war in the spiritual realm.  And my friend is absolutely correct ... we must pray for the innocent refugees, and the workers who are ministering to them.  We must tell the world about the very real human suffering that is going on.  And, most importantly, we must praise God, who draws people unto Himself through the teaching of the gospel. Thank you, Lord, that people like my young friend answer your call.   It is exciting to hear, first-hand, of the drawing power of your Word to save! And we ask for continuous strength and revelation to do what You need us to do, in the Name of Jesus.  Amen!

Colossians 1:6    "In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace."

June 27, 2016

Another Move In The Cosmic Chess Match!

     If you are like most Americans, you may be a little confused by all the media coverage of "Brexit", and what, if anything, it has to do with us.  In case, you're not quite sure what that is, let me put it in simple terms... Brexit stands for the British exit from the European Union, and this move comes with lots of implications, both from a current worldview and from a Biblical perspective.  Follow my train of thought ...
     You may remember that, in the past, I have referred to a cosmic chess match between God and satan.  If you can, I want you to picture it like this:  On one side is the Most High God and His army of angels, led by the archangel Michael, "the great Prince".  On the other side is Lucifer, or the devil, and his army of rulers, powers, and spiritual forces of wickedness.  And they battle in the spiritual realm, resulting in consequences in this earthly realm.
     Focusing in on this cosmic chess match a little closer, and we see two armies, if you will; one led by Michael, identified as an angel (messenger), and whose name means "who is like God".  I contend that there is a good argument that the title "Michael the archangel" can be translated as "The greatest messenger who is God", or Jesus.  The other army is led by an angel once known as Lucifer, the anointed cherub who was the guardian of God's throne.  But pride, which caused him to seek to overthrow God, resulted in him being cast away from God and out of Heaven, where he is still seeking to dethrone God by working from the spiritual realm through men on earth.
     So what does this have to do with Brexit, and why should we, as Christians, find any meaning in it?  The most recognizable Scripture that embodies the premise of this cosmic chess match is found in Genesis 11, and the story of the Tower of Babel.  You will remember that at the beginning of this story, the Bible tells us that "the whole earth spoke one language and used the same words".  According to the story, a united humanity of all the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar.  There, in their arrogance and self-glorification, they agreed to build a city and a tower "tall enough to reach heaven"; seeing this, God confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other and scattered them around the world.
      In Hebrew and Christian tradition, Nimrod is considered the leader of those who built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, though the Bible never actually states this.  But Nimrod's kingdom included the city of Babel in Shinar, and it was likely under his direction that the building of Babel and its tower began.  But remember the part of Scripture that relates that Nimrod "began to be mighty in the earth"?  It is my belief that after God cleansed the earth with the Flood (a bold move on the cosmic chess board), satan began to plot his strategy.  The name Nimrod, in Hebrew, means "rebel", and I think satan revived his own spirit of rebellion in Nimrod, and used him to build a tower from which satanically influenced men could assault heaven itself.  God's next move was to scatter the people into separate nations, speaking different languages, so they could not form a unified coalition again.
     Throughout history, satan has attempted to infiltrate this earthly realm and influence, or revive, his rebellious spirit in men who would further his cause to defy God.  Every time satan used an Antiochus Epiphanes or a Hitler to spread his evil on the earth and separate men from God's will to reconcile with them, God would counter his move and put an end to the wickedness.
     And now, through the spiritual eyes of men much smarter than me, I am beginning to see another set of moves on the cosmic chess board.  On his website, shoebat.com, Walid Shoebat contends that the European Union was a move by satan to, once again, build a coalition to establish his earthly authority, from which he could institute a global (or one-world) government to control the earth and destroy God's people.  If he can't have Heaven, then he'll take the earth for his throne.
      By moving towards a common currency and governing body for all of Europe, satan saw his chance to thwart God's long-ago move to scatter the people at the Tower of Babel and create independent nations.  With an encroaching one-world government and global currency system, it would set up satan's future plan that no one can buy or sell without complying with his currency system, the mark of the beast.  And his move was a good one!  The nations of Europe were subject to the governing rules of the EU, and were losing their autonomy and ability to self-rule.  And perhaps satan's greatest evil intentions came through the forced acceptance of Muslim refugees among the EU countries, and the influx of jihadist ideology.
     But does the exit of Britain signal God's next chess move?  Could He be setting the stage for a break-up of the European Union, and the re-establishment of His independent and sovereign nations that He began at the Tower of Babel?  Certainly, Britain's exit has stirred similar thoughts among the governments of Scotland, France, and Spain.
     Walid Shoebat, in his article, takes it a step further, stating:  We are beginning to see the signs of a future split in Europe, even states within states, separating between sheep and goat nations where France, parts of Italy, Spain and Portugal will be destined as sheep nations, while Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and the Baltic states or major parts of these will remain liberal and anti-God; to be destined as goat nations. Austria could go sheep or goat, we do not know.  
     Interesting concept, isn't it?  Please take the time to read his entire article, it is fascinating and not without Scriptural support.  Is it accurate?  Only God knows.  But I am certain that Brexit is an indication of a major shift in the cosmic war in the spiritual realm.  In the coming days, you will hear the media discuss the worldly implications -- effects on the world economy, global trade, immigration, etc. -- but I am more interested in the spiritual ramifications.  How will it affect the spiritual foundations of the nations, and on whose side will they align themselves?  Will there be a renewed interest in seeking God, or will secularism and jihadism continue their march across the globe?  
     A case can be made for Shoebat's assertion that Brexit is the beginning of a move by God.  Consider his statement: "If a one world government is to take place or a European Union is to control the entire continent, how then will God “divide the nations”? How then will “nation war against nation, kingdom against kingdom” and how will God “divide the nations” “sheep from goats”?  Whether this is just an isolated set of circumstances, or we see the entire dismantlement of the EU, and nations sliding toward the end-times prophecies remains to be seen.  But of this, I am certain:  the cosmic chess match will continue; with God countering every move that satan makes until His complete plan for His reconciliation with man is accomplished.  Then it will be checkmate with the return of Jesus!  For now, all I need to know is that there is a battle plan in the spiritual realm to rule the earth, and I know which side I'm on.

1 John 3:8        "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil."

January 18, 2016

Recommended: 13 Hours, The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

The real heroes and survivors of Benghazi
     I never would have thought that "the righteous acts of men" could be uttered in the same breath as "war".  Yet that is exactly what I saw in the movie, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi.  Granted, the American public has been divided over this event since September 11, 2012, and the subject has become highly politicized... after all someone running to be the next Commander-in-Chief is being heavily scrutinized over her connection to the deaths of four Americans that night.  That alone makes this movie important to me.
     It's not because I want to slam one politician, or support one political party over another.  It's because I want to hear the truth from the men who lived the battle that night -- not the State Department's version, or the carefully-crafted script that plays out on the media outlets.  That is all for them to carry out their own agendas.
     No, I want to hear the human story of bravery and heroism; the kind that none of us are capable of; the kind that is willing to face death to try to save the life of a fellow human being; the kind that does the right thing, no matter the personal cost.  And that has nothing in common with presidential campaigns, political pundits, or congressional committees.
     And so I watched 13 Hours with a sense of awe and profound respect, mixed with an emotional anger that Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods had to die that night.  And this is the story of the men that were there that night.  It does not mention any of the big names in Washington.  It is the story of their personal struggles to stay alive during an assault by an enemy determined to kill them, while wondering why the military support that was readily available did not arrive.   Sadly, the deaths of those four men could have been avoided, but it was not the focus of the movie to lay blame for the disgraceful decision(s).
     Instead it was to focus on the incredible professionalism and dedication of the men who never gave up on each other.  Heroes is too common a word for them.  Yes, they found themselves in the middle of a war that they didn't want to fight, but they never wavered in the face of overwhelming odds or certain death.  They never put themselves first, before those they were there to protect.  And, even in the midst of such hell on earth, they never let go of family and God.  It is a story as told by the survivors, and it is their story, no matter how much the narrative doesn't fit someone's political ideology.
     For me, it is sad that this movie fell below expectations at the box office.  It just shows me that people in this nation just want to focus on the politics, and to debate on what went wrong and who is responsible.  What about those brave men?  Have we forgotten them?  I know that it is a cliché to talk about the cost of freedom.  But these men have paid it for us.  Shouldn't we at least honor them by focusing on what they endured that night?  Can we focus on the response of the security teams when Tyrone Woods gives them the assessment of the situation Ambassador Stevens and those were under at the diplomatic outpost, "None of you have to go, but we’re the only hope they have.”  And they went!
     Perhaps one of the saddest moments for me was the moment that Tyrone Woods and fellow Contractor and former SEAL, Jack Silva, discussed the seriousness of the battle in which they were engaged, and the possibility that help would not arrive.  Woods says, "What used to make this worth doin’ is gone."  When our patriotic military men recognize that what this country used to be and what it used to stand for is gone, yet they still answer the call, then I know that they are distinctly superior to any one of us... and I mourn them.  I mourn that their deaths can be so casually ignored by a portion of Americans who live safely and securely in America, precisely because there are men such as they.  I mourn because so many will never know them beyond their connection with an unpleasant moment in history.  And I mourn that both grief and anger will forever be associated with this event; that their heroism is overshadowed by the shameful actions of our government.  Please... see this movie, if for no other reason than they deserve to have you feel the last gut-wrenching hours of that September 11th night, and for the loss of their friends; and for you to experience what it looks like for one man to lay down his life for his fellow man.  And because ... it does make a difference!

Romans 12:10   "Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."


January 15, 2016

It's A Great Time To Pray!

     I feel like we are sitting on a big bubble that's about to pop.  And I'm not talking about any financial bubble -- even though the world economy is hanging on by a thread, and there seems to be no end in sight of the crippling debt; both for individuals and nations.
     No, I'm talking about the escalating situations swirling around Iran.  It is not enough that they capture two Navy ships, detain our sailors, and broadcast a propaganda apology that highlights the failure of our government to maintain control of the situation (let alone save face).  In addition, the alleged cooperation between Iran and North Korea in constructing a nuclear warhead cannot be ignored.
     The Washington Free Beacon reports that it believes that Iran is housing some of its key nuclear weapons-related technology in North Korea in order to avoid detection by international inspectors.  In fact, just a week ago North Korea claimed to have successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, giving credence to lawmakers and regional experts who are warning that Pyongyang and Tehran are continuing an illicit clandestine partnership enabling the rogue nations to master nuclear technology.
     North Korea's boldness in executing the test has only served to encourage the recalcitrant Iranians.    One expert on the inner workings of the Iranian regime stated, "The entire world may well consider North Korea a failed state, but from the view point of the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps], North Korea is a success story and a role model: A state which remains true to its revolutionary beliefs and defies the Global Arrogance."  Our sailors on their knees with their hands behind their heads is a pretty darn arrogant illustration of them thumbing their noses at us, don't you think?
     So now you have Iran, fresh from humiliating the United States, being sneaky with their nuclear bomb activity, and the U.S. just days and hours from lifting the sanctions off the rebellious nation.  And then we hear the reasonable voice of retired Lt. General William "Jerry" Boykin, who tells us, "Whether you believe in prayer or not, could I suggest that this is a great time to pray for America and ‪Israel‬? Frankly, it is the only real hope that we have."  Is it really all that bad?  I'm afraid it is.
     Because the sanctions have cost Iran more than $160 billion in oil revenue since 2012 alone, they are expected to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade.  Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and the energy industry is braced for lower prices, which will directly impact our economy, and not in a good way.  In addition, Iran will also be able to access more than $100 billion in frozen overseas assets.
     But here's why General Boykin says that this Iran deal is so dangerous:  First of all, the U.S. and Iran cannot even agree what is in the deal.  The U.S. claims that Iran is in violation of the deal after recently firing two ballistic missiles.  Iran says the testing is not specifically mentioned in the deal, and therefore, they've violated nothing.  Secondly, Iran has never signed the deal.  So, seems to me that if a contract has not been signed, then neither party owes any accountability to the other.  And although Congress will vote in a week or so on imposing new sanctions, that's most likely a dead-end street, too, with a President who is quick to remind everyone that he has the power of the pen.
     As if this is not enough, we need to recognize that Iran is a dangerous detriment to world peace.  Iran has rejected any international inspection of military sites that are thought to be developing nuclear technology (threatening war if any attempt is made), giving them free reign to proceed with their nuclear projects.  Add to that, their consistent shouts of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" does not speak to a desire for peaceful relations; nor does their reception of Russian S-300 missiles.  And if anyone in the world is naive enough to think that the money they will receive from the U.S. will go to economic relief, rather than to support Iran's ongoing affiliations with terror groups throughout the Middle East, then General Boykin is right --- we don't stand a chance without prayer.
     So, at this late date, it certainly appears that Iran will proceed with its nuclear program with no regard for any "deal" with the United States.  And they have made their hatred for us and Israel quite well known over the  last few years.  They have vast influence over the sectarian strife throughout the Middle East, and in just a few days, we will be handing over $150 billion of our money to help them further all their causes.  Does that sum it up for you?
     Where this all leads, I simply do not know.  But it sure seems to me that Iran is running headlong towards their apocalyptic goal, unabated and uninhibited.  But for now, I suggest that we all follow General Boykin's advice and PRAY!  After all, he is one of the original members of the US Army’s Delta Force; the former Commander of the Army’s Green Berets, as well as the Special Warfare Center and School; and the former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence -- all prestigious military titles that speak to his understanding and comprehension of these times in which we live.
     But he is also an ordained minister, and it is his command and grasp of that job position that qualifies him to tell us that prayer is the only real hope we have.... I suggest that we follow his orders, and hit our knees!

Psalm 145:18-19   "The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them."

January 4, 2016

Part 2 - Defying ISIS: Knowing The History of Our Faith in the Middle East

   There is a statement in Johnnie Moore's enlightening book, Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity In  The Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard, that struck me to my core.  He states, "It has always been a mystery to me why so many Christians in the West struggle to live for what so many Christians in persecuted countries are willing to die for."  Please don't skip over that statement... think about it deliberately.
Christian Children Murdered
for Refusing Islamic Conversion: 'We Love Jesus'
     Why do so many people who call themselves Christian in this country have such a difficult time living their lives for Christ; living in obedience to God's commands and willing to sacrifice everything (home, family, material wealth) for a relationship with His Son?  And how is it that Christians who most likely live without the comfort and ease that we have; who are struggling to survive in this world, have a much easier time dedicating their lives to Him and following Him, even unto death?  After all, we are not beaten, imprisoned, and murdered for our faith... yet.  And still, we cannot find it within ourselves to make Him first in our lives!
      As Moore writes, "Sacrifice and martyrdom are deeply rooted in Christian identity and Christian theology.  They have been in place since the first century, and they are every bit as relevant today as they were back then.  Remember, all but one of Jesus's disciples was martyred, and the story of the early church is as triumphant as it is blood-laden."  I'm afraid that we Christians in the West assume that this kind of sacrifice is all a part of Christian history and we will get to heaven after a comfortable or natural death; while our brothers and sisters dying in the Middle East today know that they are no different than those who, centuries ago, were willing to affirm their love for Jesus in the midst of a horrifying death.
     Christians are giving their lives, affirming their love for Jesus... TODAY!  Once again they are being forced to pay for their faith with their lives, and once again -- as in so many times in history -- they are willing to do what is required of them in order to demonstrate to the world that hate is no match for the love of Jesus.  If we were willing to throw off our discomfort about this fact, we would see that Middle Eastern Christians are showing us that the brutality of ISIS (and Satan, himself) is only measured against the defiance of the faithful; the defiance which is exhibited in the very love of Jesus, Himself.
     Remember, Zena, from my post on Saturday?  She was the bright, educated, chemical engineering student who was forced to flee Mosul, and who expressed the devastation of losing the security of her church and Christian community.  Johnnie Moore asked her a difficult question:  "How has that experience affected your faith in Jesus Christ"?  He was surprised at the response he received, and describes it like this:  "The depression and hurt that had monopolized our conversation to this point went away almost entirely... A tender defiance filled her voice as she revealed to me her unwavering commitment to Jesus Christ.  She didn't say that she doubted God, or wondered why God allowed her and her fellow Christians to suffer so much, so often.  Instead she said, "We thank Jesus one thousand times for life... Our Lord Jesus saved us from death; maybe this is the beginning of our story."
     Is that how you or I would answer that question, if we suddenly lost our homes and possessions and were forced to flee from the onslaught of evil?  If we witnessed death and barbarity all around us because we professed faith in Jesus?  These Christians are actually living out the description that the Apostle Paul gives us in Romans, Chapter 8 of the persecuted church in Rome:  For Your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.  No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For [we] are convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
     Here we are 2,000 years later, and evil men are still beheading Christians, and the love of Christ continues to  prevail over their hatred.  These Christians have a very real and full understanding of the historic significance of the persecution they are enduring.  Moore says he heard numerous times, "Now, Jesus is requiring us to carry our own crosses."  They know that they are just the latest in a long line of Christians who are willing to show their defiance and commitment to Jesus.  Like Ignatius of Antioch (which is in Syria), they are willing to become martyrs in order to attain Jesus.  And like Tertullian, the Christian author who lived in North Africa in the third century, they believe that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church," and that "the Christian, even when he is condemned, gives thanks."
     I know that all of this seems so foreign to our Christian experience in the West.  It is hard for us to understand that such bastions of the Christian faith exist in the heart of what we perceive as Muslim strongholds.  But we do not understand the history of our own faith; that our faith has deep roots in ancient Assyria, which was one of the Great Mesopotamian powers along with the Babylonians and the nearby Persians. The areas they occupied are roughly close to the borders of modern day Syria (Assyria), Iraq (Babylon) and Iran (Persia).   It was in this region that Adam and Eve were created.  It was from here that Abraham was sent, and it was here where prophets like Jonah and Nahum preached.  The northern kingdom of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians (modern day Syria), and then 166 years later, the southern kingdom of Judah was marched into exile to Babylon (modern day Iraq).  
Monastery of Mar Mattai/Saint Matthew
on Mount Alfaf, northern Iraq
     As you can see God has always had a place for Iraq in His plan.  And tradition teaches that the Disciple, Thomas, was responsible for the church in Syria.  In fact, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, gives us some important information on the history of Christianity in this region and why the stories of our Christian brethren in the Middle East should affect us to our core:  "The Nineveh area (near modern-day Mosul, Iraq) is profoundly significant to Iraq's Christians.  From antiquity, it has been the homeland of the Assyrians, who accepted Christianity, according to tradition, from St. Thomas, the Apostle, himself.  It is studded with historic churches and monasteries, some dating from the 4th century (such as the monastery of Mar Mattai/Saint Matthew).  Christianity spread from this region by Syriac missionaries across Asia to Tibet, China, and Mongolia ... Western Christians owe an immense spiritual, theological, and cultural debt to this Church.  Iraq's Christians still pray in Aramaic, the language of Jesus."
     Moore's book also makes the following assertion, which I firmly believe, that one of the reasons we Western Christians fail to have the heart we should for our Eastern brethren is that we mistakenly think that Christianity was birthed in Jerusalem, grew westward to Greece, then Rome, and into the countries of Spain, France, England, and eventually, "the New World".  We have also been taught that by the Middle Ages, Christianity was mainly European, until it hopped the Atlantic and became American.  We have been taught that the heart of Christianity has always been westward.  What we fail to realize is that Christianity also moved east, as it moved west.
     If we were honest in our retelling of history, we would easily understand that Christianity originated in the Near East, and during the first few centuries, it had its greatest centers, monasteries, and churches in what was known as Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia.  In fact, Eastern Christians were at the heart of Christianity from the days of the apostles until at least the 1300s -- the first two-thirds of Christian history!  Furthermore, most of the modern Muslim world was once the Christian world, and so much of ancient history is built upon a Christian foundation.  And although Christianity has declined in prominence since the Arab conquests of the Middle East, in every one of these countries, until our modern era, there were Christian communities who could trace their lineage for a thousand years.
     And now ISIS is threatening to decimate every vestige of Christianity, and we in the West fail to both realize the threat, and to react to the historic significance.  Are we able to acknowledge that Christian genocide is a reality and that we are allowing the destruction of Christianity in the place of its birth?
     At the beginning of his book, Johnnie Moore makes the declarative statement, "The threat of ISIS is a threat to the livelihood of every sensible person on the planet, and in its crosshairs is the faith of the world's two billion Christians and nearly all of its Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists.  If they have their way, you won't live another day.  There's nothing in the world truer than that.  That's why you should read this book."  Note that it is not only Christians who will suffer genocide, but all those who oppose Satan's will in using ISIS for his purposes.
     At the end of the book, Moore quotes the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerhl, who spoke out on the issue of Christian genocide:  "Where are the voices?  Why a silence?  I think each one of us has at least the power to raise our voice.  In solidarity with these people distant from us, unknown to us ... atrocities happen because there are those who commit them, and those who simply remain silent."   Moore then concludes:  "As for me ... I am done being silent.  I will not have it on my conscience that I stood by while 2,000 years of Christianity was eliminated from the Middle East.  What about you?"
     But, perhaps it is more important for us to hear from representatives of the Church inside the Middle East; those who have first-hand knowledge of the persecution and oppression.  The Reverend Canon Andrew White is the Anglican Vicar of Baghdad, and he’s become famous for being one of the few sources of news about Christians from inside ISIS-influenced areas.  His stories are difficult to hear, but leave us with no doubt that we must stand with our fellow Christians, storm the throne room of God with our prayers -- and do it now! 
     Finally, I conclude with these thoughts ... Will we stand by and watch the march of Evil across the globe?  Not only should we be raising our voices in support of Christianity in the Middle East, but we should be lending our financial support to those organizations that can make a real difference in their lives.  I am sorry to say that I no longer put my trust in elected officials to do anything meaningful, or to follow through on empty promises.
     Johnnie Moore suggests supporting refugees from this genocidal crisis through an organization called World Help, by visiting www.worldhelp.net/Iraq.  He is also the founder of The Cradle Fund, which provides immediate humanitarian assistance, and is focused on developing a stable future for the entire region.  You can visit his website at www.cradlefund.org.
     It think it is important for us to see that, as Christians, it is our duty to show the love of Christ to not only those who share our faith in the Middle East, but to all peoples, of all faiths.  That is what Christ commissioned us to do.  It is the way the pagan world was transformed in antiquity, and it is the surest way to see dramatic change in the chaos we are witnessing today.  Those dying, this minute, for Jesus in the Middle East are leading the way ... love must be the answer to hate; and it is time we intercede on their behalf, take our stand, declare our commitment to our Lord, and prepare to bear our cross.  How will history tell our story?

 Ephesians 6:18     Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).

January 2, 2016

Part 1 - Defying ISIS: The War On Christianity

    I recently read an important little book by Johnnie Moore, titled Defying ISIS.  Moore is a humanitarian who has written about his work with genocide victims in the Middle East, Bosnia and Rwanda and visited the world’s largest refugee camps.  Currently, he is sounding the alarm about Christian martyrs in Iraq and Syria who are faced with the barbarism of ISIS and the one option they have: convert or die.
     This little book impacted me like none other I've read in a long time.  In his own words, Moore says he "relates the stories of men, women, and children who have given everything for their faith, even their lives, and stories of those who, when facing inevitable death, lifted their eyes to their God in hope that good will eventually triumph over this evil."  He tells their stories "so that the world will have the opportunity to remember those who stared down the hell of ISIS with the love of Jesus."  Moore tells the stories of the deliberate eradication of Christians in the land where Christianity once dominated.
     There is the story of Mazen, a middle-aged man who lived in what was known as "Iraq's Christian capital", the city of Qaraqosh.  Moore relates that his once strong posture is now reduced to a humbled crouch as he recounts the horror of the morning ISIS arrived:  [It was] nine in the morning when a mortar landed on our house.  My son died.  My nephew was hit in the head.  My other son remains wounded, and our neighbor next door died... We fled, all of us ... My other son, Milad, died on the way.  I have another son who needs an operation; it costs $15,000.  Where would I get that?  We don't have a house or property or anything [anymore].
     Then there is the tragic story of Aida, a young mother of a beautiful three-year-old daughter, Christina.  They also lived in Quaraqosh, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.  It was four in the morning when ISIS arrived in their town, shooting their guns in the air, and shouting, "God is great!"  Then they began shouting something else ... "CHRISTIANS! Leave before we behead you!"  Aida tells us what happened next:  The situation deteriorated  day-by-day, and after ten days they told us to convert to Islam, or leave.  We were under house arrest.  They took our gold and money and even our extra clothing.  
     ISIS piled them on a bus and dropped them outside of town, to flee or die.  But before they did, they yanked Christina out of her mother's arms, and threatened to kill the hysterical mother on the spot.  Aida said, We don't know why they took our daughter; she was the only child left in Quaraqosh.  We don't know what happened to her.  I'm always thinking about her.  I can't eat or sleep... I keep seeing her in my dreams.  Can you imagine?  Why isn't the world screaming about this inhuman barbarity?  Why aren't we Christians in the West more aware this is happening and interceding on behalf of our Christian brothers and sisters?
     There are the stories of the kidnapping, selling, and trading of children.  As if that is not enough, there are the excruciating stories of the execution of children!  Moore says that "the most conservative estimates put the number of executed children in Syria alone at more than 10,000... [ISIS] revels in the chance to inflict a particular type of horror into the hearts of those they hate.  They sincerely believe they are doing a justice by ridding the world of another generation of Christians, and so they massacre them with pure joy."  What if this was a European child?  An American child?  Why is the world silent?
     It is also the goal of those who promote the Islamic Caliphate to enslave Christian wives and abuse Christian daughters.  I think you know what that means.  We, in the West, are aware of human and sex trafficking (although we are loathe to admit it or confront it openly).  But a smuggled price list from a slave market was recently published by Iraqi News.  The document states that Christian and Yazidi girls are particularly targeted and priced according to age:  ages 1-9 cost $172; ages 10-20 cost $130; ages 20-30 cost $86; ages 30-40 cost $75; and ages 40-50 are sold for $43.  Below the prices on the document, bearing the official seal of the Islamic State of Iraq, it reads, "Customers are allowed to purchase only three items [slaves] with the exception of customers from Turkey, Syria, and Gulf countries.  Obey and follow the rules and laws of the Islamic State or be killed."
     The website, Breaking Israel News, reports that theologians of the Islamic State (ISIS) have issued what can only be described as exceptionally detailed rulings on when “owners” can have sex with female slaves captured by the jihadist group.  The report also added that rather than hiding their practice of slavery, ISIS takes great pride and has even established a department of “war spoils” to manage their slavery trade.
     It is hard enough to read of this horrific abuse against women when it is written in general terms and statistics.  It is another to hear the personal story of Mayat, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl who had been kidnapped and told of "rooms of horror" where "women are raped, often by different men and throughout the day... Often I wish they would beat me so hard I will die.  But they are cowards even in this.  None of them have the courage to end our suffering... even if I survive, I don't think I'll be able to remove this horror from my mind.  They have already killed my body.  They are now killing my soul."
     Then there is the story of Zena, a 20-year-old chemical engineering student in Mosul.  When ISIS came to town she had three strikes against her:  First, she was a Christian; Second, she was a woman; and Third, she was a woman with ambition.  When Johnnie Moore met her, she was wearing the same pajamas she was wearing the night ISIS arrived.  Zena told him that her sense of hope was destroyed when ISIS decimated their church and Christian community; it was an assault "on their security in a deep and personal way."
    But Zena was one of the lucky ones.  In the Syrian city of Al-Mayadin, a female dentist was captured and beheaded because she dared to treat both men and women.  Many others have been stoned to death and buried in shallow graves, or kidnapped and forcibly married to ISIS fighters.  Needless to say, all women are being forced to comply with a strict dress code, and are threatened with death if they refuse.
     One elderly man, when questioned by Moore about why he fled his hometown, replied, "I will tell you why I left my district.  I left it because they stormed our house barbarically at 2 a.m., harassing us, pointing their flashlights toward our women.  We didn't come from another country.  We are from an eastern society.  We are Iraqis and we are jealous of our honor.  So we left to avoid them because they already threatened to arrest our women.  They told my mother that they would arrest her if they couldn't find us."  So, he left to protect his mother, his wife, and his daughters.
     There are more stories than these... thousands of stories, and many of them much more savage and cruel.  And I wanted to let the voices of Johnnie Moore (who has seen these atrocities first-hand) and the victims speak for themselves.  I wanted to shake us western Christians out of our comfort zones to face the existence of this very real war on Christianity.  It is a war that will not be confined to the Middle East, and is designed to be waged worldwide.  We must wake up and determine that we will  not only intercede in prayer on behalf of our fellow Christians, but turn our attention, time, and resources to supporting them in their hour of need.
     I want to leave you at this part of the story, if you will, with the words of Sister Rose, a young nun from Mosul, Iraq, who has poured her life into the lives of Christian refugees as they have fled from city to city, and she among them.  Sister Rose told Johnnie Moore, "I lived in America.  Americans are wonderful people.  It's shocking to me that they are so silent in the face of our genocide.  Please help us.  Raise your voice for us.  Our children are dying.  In America you care for your pets so well, can you care for your Christians brothers and sisters who are suffering?"
     Can we?  On Monday's post, I will finish my report on the work of Johnnie Moore and why he thinks these stories should matter to you; how he thinks we defeat ISIS; and his unique perspective on Christianity in the heart of a Muslim Middle East.  It's time that the world awakes from its slumber, and it is especially time for us Christians.  The very existence of our faith in its birthplace in the Middle East, and our lives, here in the West, depend on it.

1 John 5:19   "We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one."

December 15, 2015

Let's Look At The Bigger Picture

     It didn't surprise me at all.  In the wake of recent terrorist actions and threats, three malls across the country were evacuated this weekend due to bomb threats.  An empty suitcase caused the evacuation of some 500 people Saturday morning at a handful of stores at the Largo Mall, an outdoor outlet mall near Tampa, Florida.  Then, a two-story shopping mall in Hackensack, New Jersey, was evacuated after authorities learned of a bomb threat scrawled on the wall of a bathroom.  In Farmington, New Mexico, the Animas Valley Mall was cleared out and closed while police searched the shopping center after a threat was found on a women’s restroom wall.
     But malls weren't the only target.  Police in San Francisco cleared a suspicious and unattended backpack, which was left on the Embarcadero, a tourist-heavy attraction near the city’s financial district.  At the end of the day, all suspicious articles were cleared and shoppers were allowed to continue with their purchases.  Were they serious threats, or just further attempts to keep this nation unbalanced and on edge?  The fact that similar messages and threats were left on bathroom walls in local New Mexico schools would suggest the latter.
     We need to ask ourselves... what is the goal here?  Were these part of a plan by ISIS and its sympathizers to create a hyper-vigilant state here in the US; to keep us nervous, anxious and insecure?  And then after repeated "all clears", to create a false sense of safety, before carrying out another deadly attack? That certainly makes sense to me.  But at the same time, I do not doubt that one aspect of such schemes is to disrupt the economy of this nation, and convince shoppers to stay home during one of the busiest shopping seasons of the year.  After all, an already weak economy would definitely suffer more if retailers failed to have a successful Christmas.
     Of course, all this is something that needs to be considered.  But we must not forget the bigger picture; that there is a real design and strategy being carried out by the Enemy to bring the final battle of this world to fruition.  Will the stated objectives of ISIS become a useful tool to precipitate that battle?  Jessica Stern, a Research Professor at Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies presents a pretty convincing argument in her article, What Does ISIS Really Want Now?  Although there is no mention of God, Satan, Battle of Armageddon or End of the World in her piece, those of us who believe in Jesus will see the parallels.
     Professor Stern cites Dabiq, ISIS’s on-line magazine, in which the terrorist state sets forth two principal but contradictory goals, which it labels “options.” The first is to spread a totalitarian caliphate throughout the region and, ultimately, the world. The second is to polarize Muslims against one another, to incite internal divisions within the West, and to turn the West against Islam, with the ultimate goal of “goad[ing] the West into launching an all-out ground attack, thereby setting the scene for the final battle between Muslims and the crusaders prophesized to be held at Dabiq in Syria.”  Sounds like End Times to me!
     The first goal is evident in the Middle East, as Iraq and Syria are engulfed in battles with the self-proclaimed caliphate.  We are now beginning to see the strategy for accomplishing the second goal.  With the attacks in Europe, it has been easier to accomplish.  The Muslim populations there are far more radicalized and willing to push the envelope, so to speak.  But with the recent attack in San Bernardino, we can no longer deny that our homeland is subject to such blatant terrorism on behalf of ISIS.  So the second option is coming into view and being put into action.
     We are only now seeing "moderate" Muslims begin to speak up and out against the radicalization of their faith, polarizing them against each other.  And our societal discussion regarding "Islamaphobia" and discrimination versus tolerance is certainly causing internal division among our citizens.  All it will take is another undisguised attack or two by ISIS supporters, and the West will turn against Islam, and their goal will be complete.... the final battle between the Muslims and "crusaders".
     Within the article, I found Professor Stern's explanation of ISIS's narrative to would-be jihadists quite fascinating.  She states, "The narrative of victory most appeals to those who feel they have lost something. And ISIS deliberately appeals to disenfranchised Muslims, as well as to potential converts,  around the world; to those—as ISIS puts it—“drowning in oceans of disgrace, being nursed on the milk of humiliation, and being ruled by the vilest of all people.”   In one of the essays in its online magazine, ISIS urges its followers "to remove the garments of dishonor, and shake off the dust of humiliation and disgrace, for the era of lamenting and moaning has gone and the dawn of honor has emerged anew ... the sun of jihad has risen.”  The author of that essay maintains that ISIS has established a true caliphate, with “honor and pride for the Muslim and humiliation and degradation for the kaffir.”  The victory ISIS speaks of is the victory of the formerly oppressed.
     We might think that this would be an ineffective recruiting tool here in the U.S.  After all, Sayed Farook of San Bernardino was born here in the U.S. and lived a comfortable American life.  Yet he was still radicalized and poisoned by false ideologies fomented through his faith.  Obviously, he was somehow convinced that he had been humiliated, and in order to find redemption and reclaim his self-respect, he needed to rise up against his oppressors in this country.  That is an ideology that will be difficult for us to root out and eradicate because it has its foundation in a false belief as old as time.
     The Enemy of this world loves to whisper the lie that we humans are subject to unjust treatment; that there is no hope other than to follow his strategy to steal, kill, and destroy.  It's the plan that he has worked since the moment he decided he could overthrow God.  And he will use whatever, and whomever, he can recruit to cause as much damage to this world and God's kingdom as he can.  His time is short -- that we know because the evidence is before us.  The players of the Bible's End Times prophecies are coming into view and the battle plan has been publicly announced.
     Will we be able to delay it with fervent prayer and repentance?  That remains to be seen.  But this I do know ... I see, very plainly, the opposing sides forming for this coming conflict.  Satan and his army are lining up against Christ and His remnant.  It is inevitable, and there will be victories and losses on both sides before the Final Battle.  Now is the time for the peoples of the world to decide which side they are on, because believe me, they will be forced to choose.  So all their preoccupation with the things of this world needs to take second place to their eternal future.
     I began this post by highlighting the largely unreported scares and potential terrorist attacks appearing around the country this last weekend.  It was not my attention to create a buzzkill over the joyous atmosphere of this holiday season.  But I strongly feel that we must all be alert to the Time in which we live; the prophetical Time forecast by our Savior, Himself.  Recognize the signs and hear the clues being given by the enemies of Christ.  Be vigilant and keep your eyes open as you keep them focused heavenward.  ISIS is correct in one aspect of their goals ... Redemption is important ... but it is the redemption offered by the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ that will be our ultimate reward for following His true and righteous path.  And make no mistake; Victory will be His!

Deuteronomy 20:4     "For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory." 

November 4, 2015

What Is The State Of Our Military?

     I took a good look at a recent survey of our U.S. Military by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank based in Washington, D.C.  The highlights of their 2016 Index of U.S. Military Strength revealed some interesting ratings.
     For instance they ranked U.S. Military Power as "marginal", with the Army rating a "weak" score. Considering that the Army is the largest branch of our Armed Forces, that should make us sit up and take notice.
     And if that's not enough to make you uneasy, here is how they rated Threats to U.S. Vital Interests:   Iran and the Middle East received an "Elevated" ranking; Russia, China, and terrorism associated with Afghanistan/Pakistan received a rating of "High"; and North Korea was rated as "Severe".  It should not be surprising that the Heritage Foundation found these nations to be particularly aggressive during 2015, and they expect that the rapid modernization and expansion of their offensive military capabilities will make these especially worrisome continuing into 2016.  Russia's swift and vigorous involvement in the Middle East is evidence that these predictions are most likely on the mark.
     And which of us have any faith in the so-called pact with Iran over their nuclear proliferation?  Does anyone really believe that they intend to honor any treaty they have made?  They have said as much; that they will continue on the path towards nuclear weapons development and the annihilation of Israel.
     So all this makes the Heritage Foundation's assessment of U.S. Military Power more relevant.  I want you to read, word-for-word, their evaluation .... "Finally, we assessed the military power of the United States in three areas: capability, capacity, and readiness. These three areas of assessment are central to the overarching questions of whether the U.S. has a sufficient quantity of appropriately modern military power and whether military units are able to conduct military operations on demand and effectively.
     The common theme across the services and the United States’ nuclear enterprise is one of force degradation resulting from many years of underinvestment, poor execution of modernization programs, and the negative effects of budget sequestration (cuts in funding) on readiness and capacity. While the military has been heavily engaged in operations, primarily in the Middle East but elsewhere as well, since September 11, 2001, experience is both ephemeral and context-sensitive. Valuable combat experience is lost over time as the servicemembers who individually gained experience leave the force, and it maintains direct relevance only for future operations of a similar type. Thus, though the current Joint Force is experienced in some types of operations, it is still aged and shrinking in its capacity for operations."
     The Army is "weak" because of a drop in the number of combat-ready troops.  The Navy's fleet is diminished and struggling to meet operational demands.  The index score for the Air Force dropped from "strong" to "marginal", due to a degradation in capability and readiness.  The fighting competence of the Marines is superb, but it is hampered by aging equipment; troubled replacement programs for its key ground vehicles (particularly its amphibious personnel carriers); and a shrinking force.  (That's why it is so difficult to see ISIS driving around the Middle East in our abandoned military trucks and equipment).  Perhaps the most alarming finding of the Heritage Foundation's survey was the greater need to modernize U.S. nuclear capabilities, particularly with regard to aging delivery systems. Continued reliance on legacy systems such as the B-52 will eventually diminish the effectiveness of the nuclear enterprise of our military and lead to the deterioration of our nation’s ability to deter a nuclear attack.
     The overall picture that the Heritage Foundation painted was one of a U.S. military force capable of meeting the demands of a single major regional conflict, while also managing various "presence" and "engagement" activities.  BUT, they also concluded that our military would be very hard-pressed to do more than that, and certainly would be ill-equipped to handle two nearly simultaneous major regional incidents.
     The bottom line is this:  The consistent decline in funding and the consequent shrinking of our armed forces have placed it under significant pressure.  Essential maintenance of equipment continues to be deferred; fewer units (mostly the Navy’s platforms and the Special Operations Forces community) are being cycled through operational deployments more often, and for longer periods; and old equipment is being extended while programmed replacements are problematic.
     Let's face it.  Add all these factors together, and we have a U.S. military that is "marginally" able to meet the demands of defending America’s vital national interests.  So what does this say about the Military-Industrial Complex?  Either they have been gutted by the decimation of funding for our forces; or the corruption is so extensive throughout the Government and Pentagon, that pockets are being lined while the lives of our combat troops are ignored and exploited.  Either way, the common defense of the nation seems to have collapsed, or even been deliberately sacrificed.
     At times like this, I always wonder what the intention was at the founding of our nation.  How would the Founders have viewed the state in which we find our military and national defense?  Consider what James Madison had to say:  "In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people ... Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied: and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
     So where does this leave us?  Certainly, war seems to have been the ever-present companion of man for the last century.  But even in the Old Testament, war was prominent, and often seen as "holy"; often declared by God.  And we are all familiar with the Scripture in Ecclesiastes that says "there is a time for war, and a time for peace."  Ever since St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) formulated the theory of the Just War, it seems that man has rationalized his way into ever-increasing states of war.  To be honest, I don't have a crystal ball to see where our decline in military strength and capability leads us.  Will the next Presidential election change the direction we are headed?  Or is it too late?  Has our weakness been exploited past the time of no return?  Only God sees the future.  All I know is that I long for His Peace and the absence of all the Evil I see.  But I also know that there has to be one final War on Earth before the Prince of Peace comes to reign.  Perhaps we are seeing the world line up, and build up, towards that final conflagration?

Exodus 15:3    "The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name."


October 14, 2015

For A Time Such As This

     I am sure there are many people like me; folks who are well aware that the chaos and confusion that we see in the world is not only increasing, but actually must happen in order to usher in the return of our Lord.  By this confession, I'm sure I'm not telling you anything you don't know.  But I also know that feeling the intensity of escalating events can lead to some sleepless nights.
     Just today, I woke up in the early hours of the morning -- a little past 4:00 -- and could not go back to sleep.  I felt such a heaviness and oppression, and was aware of a sense of impending doom; like world events are cascading in upon each other and will soon erupt into a worldwide conflagration.  I know, I know ... that is not exhibiting the hope and peace that I should have in knowing God is in control of all events, and my eternal future is secure.  But when these sleepless periods come, it's not so much fears over my personal safety that keep me awake, but I can't keep my mind from being concerned about all my loved ones, or being aware of the horrendous persecution of people of faith around the world.
     How is it possible to escape the headlines each day?  They are not to be ignored ... Russia and Syria forming a strong alliance; Chinese warplanes joining the battle against ISIS; Iran declaring hatred and annihilation of America and Israel; Oil reserves discovered in the Golan Heights (which could certainly be the "hook" that draws the nations into the Gog-Magog war ... and on and on.  It all seems to be aligning with Biblical prophecy.
     As I laid in bed, binding those destructive thoughts and taking them captive, I was reminded of a dream that I had nearly 6 or 7 years ago.  It was so intense and so real, that I knew it was spiritual in purpose.  In this dream, I was on a beautiful beach with nearly pure white sand, and situated in a cove.  On one side of this cove, the land formed a peninsula that jutted out into the ocean, but I was protected from the roaring sea in this quiet cove.   Then I became aware of a strange object in the water of this coastal inlet, and as only seems logical in dreams, I recognized it as a ferris wheel.
     At this point, I must tell you that I am not really comfortable in deep water, so it is understandable that I approached the ferris wheel in my dream with some trepidation.  But I finally climbed into one of the buckets and it began its climb towards the sky, where I could see the beauty of the calm water before me.  But as it descended, I knew I was going to have to brace for an entrance into the deep water of the cove, before the rotation of the ferris wheel continued its circular motion.  So, I experienced several rounds of relaxed enjoyment, followed by the anticipation and fear of going underwater.  Looking back at this dream,  I believe this was representative of what I have faced over the last years as God has awakened me to the knowledge that we are in the Last Days... periods of calm, serenity, and confidence, followed by times of fear, anticipation and dread as He revealed more of how He wants me to spiritually prepare.
     But then the dream took a different turn.  I exited the ferris wheel, and ventured to walk from the cove and around to the other side of the peninsula.  I felt drawn to the open sea, even though the sheer size and mass of the ocean frightened me.  I stood looking at the ocean, mesmerized by its power, and then I noticed far-off in the distance, a small wave approaching.  I stood there, almost hypnotized, watching this wave growing as it approached me until, shaken from my stupor, I realized that the swelling waves were going to swamp the shore on which I stood.
     Despite being fearful of the ocean and deep water, I knew that I had to try to escape and swim to safety.  The next thing I became aware of in my dream was swimming as hard as I could and looking back over my shoulder to see that wave coming ever closer with such speed and height.  At last it reached me and came crashing down on top of me, tumbling me over and over, and dragging me into the depths of the ocean.  I was so scared, and fought to hold my breath, finally resigning myself to the fact that I was going to drown.
     Even in my dream state, I could feel my heart beating wildly and could sense my acceptance of death.  Then I felt strong arms scooping me up in those deep waters, and of being cradled.  I heard a voice say, "It's all right.  There's no need to be afraid. I have you."  Then I had a fleeting moment of such profound peace, freedom from fear, and of being completely loved before waking up.  I know, without a doubt, that this dream was confirming that, yes, there is a wave building across the globe, and it will come crashing down upon the world.  There will be moments of panic and terror, but I am to rest in the knowledge that this fear will be fleeting.  I will be secure in the arms of my Lord, who will literally save me from drowning in the chaos and evil of these days.
     Nothing has changed in the intervening years, since I had the dream, to give me a different insight into the prophetic meaning of it.  Before our very eyes we are witnessing upheaval in our monetary systems, the erosion of independent sovereign nation states; and our social institutions and international relations are decaying.  The institution of marriage, that began in the Garden of Eden, has been redefined.  And the sanctity of life is sold for corporate profit.  As Paul McGuire, a prophecy expert, describes the world, "It’s as if the world has been set on fire by chaos or crisis of every kind; financial crisis, terrorist crisis, racial crisis, moral crisis, religious crisis and even a crisis in our weather patterns."
     So I know that many of you are feeling the effects of what we are witnessing in world events.  But I'm here to tell you we don't have to succumb to fear or paranoia.  The love that I felt in that dream is real, and there is power and deliverance in it!  We have been called by God, before the creation of the world, for a time such as this.  He will see us through whatever is coming, and He has promised that the gates of Hell will not overcome us!  Just remember this:  that wave may have come crashing down on me, but I landed in the strong arms of my Savior and He assured me that He would not let go.  If you belong to Him, His promise is the same for you!

Psalm 118:16-17     The Lord’s right hand is raised. The Lord’s right hand performs valiantly!  I will not die, but I will live and proclaim what the Lord has done.

October 8, 2015

Global Government Headed Your Way

     How many of you have heard of the "Strong Cities Network"?  Have any idea what it might be?  It sounds like something rather benign, doesn't it -- like a supportive group of interconnected towns for the greater benefit of all?  Well, let's step away from our normalcy bias and take a look at this program and how it might possibly lead to further loss of our God-given freedoms.
     As an excellent article on World Net Daily discloses, this signature program of the Obama administrative was unveiled at the United Nations at the end of last month.  The implied target of the Strong Cities Network is "violent extremism".
     Just one day before the mass murder in Roseburg, Oregon, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced to world leaders at the UN that the time has come for a more globalized and comprehensive effort to combat violent extremism. She said: “Until now, we have lacked that mechanism. We haven’t had the benefit of sustained or coordinated cooperation among the growing number of cities and municipalities that are confronting this ongoing challenge. Communities have too often been left isolated and alone. But through the Strong Cities Network that we have unveiled today, we are making the first systematic effort in history to bring together cities around the world to share experiences, to pool resources and to forge partnerships in order to build local cohesion and resilience on a global scale. Today we tell every city, every town and every community that has lost the flower of its youth to a sea of hatred – you are not alone. We stand together and we stand with you.”
     With New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio by Lynch's side, the pair were careful to stress that such "a global coalition of cities seeking to combat extremism and terrorism in all of its many forms would not profile Muslims."  But as the WND article pointed out, then who do they have in mind?  Shadram Hadian, a former Muslim and now a Christian Pastor, says it’s no coincidence that the project was launched at the United Nations.  "So who are they going to target when they talk about violent extremism?" asked Hadian, who grew up in Iran and now travels nationwide teaching churches and law enforcement about the dangers of Shariah law. “Well, if you look at their track record, it always seems to be that your violent extremists are your Christians, your veterans and your Second Amendment advocates.”  Wow!  That's a bold and courageous statement!
     Yet, the lack of media coverage in the U.S., and the obvious choice of the UN to unveil this program, certainly calls into question the explicit and precise motives of this global policing initiative.  As Paul McGuire, (a minister, author, and World News & End Times events expert) pointedly asks, "The question is Why?  This is massive because it’s such a contradiction to the Constitution, and there was no consultation with Congress, and they did a complete end-run around everything that our Constitution stands for."
     So we have to ask ourselves... are we seeing any signs of an agenda that seeks to identify other groups (besides Islamic jihadists) as extremists?  Both Hadian and McGuire suggest that the use of the term "violent extremism" is intended to "draw a moral equivalency among all religions, even though 99 percent of all religious-based violence in the world today involves Muslims killing non-Muslims."
     What concerns them (and should concern everyone of us) is the apparent attempt to 1)  negate Muslim radicals with violence in the U.S. and world;  2)  paint conservative, religious people as perpetrators of discriminatory violence,  and 3) at the same time ignore (or at least whitewash) the fact that Christians are increasingly becoming the targets of such violence.  We see any or all of these efforts in the "official" narratives of Roseburg, Oregon; Garland, Texas; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Oklahoma City; Fort Hood, Texas; and the Boston Marathon.  In each of those attacks, Muslims or Muslim sympathizers were identified as the attackers, with their targets being innocent Christians, civilians or the military.  And we mustn't forget that it was black Christians who were the targets of the racist, anti-Christian Dylan Roof in Charleston, South Carolina.
      So, why push the narrative that "violent extremism" covers a broad spectrum of people?  According to John Whitehead, a constitutional lawyer, it serves a purpose .... global government.  Now, with the Strong Cities Network, U.S. cities will be cooperating and “sharing resources” with foreign governments around the world. Local police are already training with FBI, DHS and even the military.  This administration's new program lays the groundwork for them to train with foreign police units under the banner of the U.N.
     Among the first steps taken will be to merge some of the law-enforcement capacities within regions, with U.S. cops cooperating more closely with those of Mexico and Canada, Whitehead said. He warns, “They’re working to fuse them together, so local autonomy, local authority, will be diluted and eventually eliminated.  They’re already globalizing; technology demands it."
     And what should be a lightbulb moment for every American is the use of the terminology "U.S. and international standards".  McGuire points out that the U.N. will always pick a “politically correct” situation in which to intervene.  It will not intervene to stop the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, but it will intervene to protect transgenders, Islam or perceived racial bias by police, as when U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for the protection of civil rights during the Ferguson uprising in August 2014 even as rioters were looting, turning over police cars and burning buildings.
     But it is McGuire's next words that should be the lightbulb moment for every Christian in America:  “I believe we are now reaching a tipping point that is going to happen very soon,” he said. “It could happen overnight and most likely after a crisis event. The U.N. is already in control of a great deal, but we are going to see the U.N. come out of the shadows and openly exercise its authority over the United States. They will still have some kind of illusion of the United States for the masses, but I believe the elites are ready to bring global government out of the closet, and we’re going to see a very radical, aggressive change. They want to do this by 2030, and in Paris they’re going to announce another round of sweeping changes (in November) and then you look at all the trigger points, the Syrian war, the international debt crisis, etcetera.”  To underscore this point, the WND article revealed that two dozen cities have signed up including Paris, London, Mumbai, Montreal, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Tunis, Oslo, Beirut and Palermo, among others.
     So, is McGuire alluding to the opening of the beginning Seals in Revelation 6?  It certainly seems as if he is describing a Conqueror, conflict on the earth, and crises that could cause massive famine and death.  And all we have to do is look at the chaos in Europe from the mass immigration and refugee crisis.  World leaders, along with the Pope, seem to be taking us to that tipping point that McGuire warns about.
     Perhaps you think that my concern regarding the Strong Cities Network is overblown and mischaracterized.  In response, I would like you to consider these words by global elitist Henry Kissinger in an address at a Bilderberg meeting in Evian, France, May 21, 1991, (as transcribed from a tape-recording made by one of the Swiss delegates):  “Today Americans would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will pledge with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government.”
     In my Biblical worldview, this statement certainly seems to suggest what we are told in Revelation Chapters 6-11 --- that the disasters and wars and civil unrest described in this portentous Book of the Bible will be so devastating, and create such a monumental global crisis, that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.  Once entrenched in power, the beast (Antichrist) and the power behind him (Satan) will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven.  And as national and world events are showing us, the devil knows his time is short.
     But this is not the time for us to give in to fear and despair.  We have a part to play in this End Times scenario ... and that is to endure and spread the Word that there is power in the saving blood of Christ; and to use our Authority in His Name to cast down Satan's evil plans.  Our natural state is to live in the freedom that was bought by our Savior's sacrifice.  Let us reveal our true identity to the world and point the path to deliverance from this chaotic world... the path to Jesus!

Revelation 13:7    "And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations."