Monthly Archives: July 2015

MAN or God?

God or Man?

The Christian experience begins with an initial decision by an individual involving two choices: remain in your sins or repent and accept Christ for the forgiveness of sins. There is no such thing as a neutral position. By default we are in our sins and a choice only arises when an opportunity for salvation is presented in some form.

The nature of this position regarding this choice can be summed up with the scene on the Hill of Golgotha where Christ was crucified. On one side of Christ was a thief who accepted His salvation, and on the other side of Christ there was another thief who rejected Him. That is it–acceptance or rejection, any contrived “neutral” position is a de facto rejection of Christ.

golgotha

For the Christian other kinds of decisions emerge after acceptance of Christ. There is a continual interplay between following Christ, on the one hand, which involves living a spiritually disciplined life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23, which must be practiced, and these fruit are love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance and on the other hand, avoiding  a life lived according to the “works of the flesh” Galatians 5:19-21, which are those actions that God prohibits and, which happens to be the actions we do by nature, having been born sinners.

The decisional realm in a Christian’s daily life is extensive. These decisions involve actions which have a right or wrong outcome as far as God is concerned. The Christian position is that the Holy Spirit indwells the individual and helps that individual make the right choices. Thankfully many of these decisions don’t involve a lot of “angst”, or represent great “temptations”, but some will! It is those tough decisions which become the turning points in a person’s life (and a denomination’s life) and which can represent the truest tests!

fork-in-the-road1

The Bible, meditation, prayer, fellowship among believers, all these things help a Christian make the right decisions to live a Godly life and so minimize the shortcomings which we have as imperfect people. Truth is the only guide and the Bible is the primary source of Truth for Christians. When the Bible is minimized, or demoted to a “second-place” status, then the decisions that a Christian makes between right and wrong can be severely compromised and really without effective guidance. This is a major problem for the Church today!

Which brings us to the many social issues which society is experiencing and which involve Christians in an intimate way. Christianity is undergoing a severe test as it is being redefined according to other criteria apart from the Bible. We are seeing decisions being made, not just by individuals, but even by whole denominations, which show a strong rejection of Biblical Truth, even though claims to the contrary are maintained. Clearly the Church and its message is being rewritten!  There doesn’t seem to be much of a concern that many of these decisions clearly are opposite to what has been accepted as Truth down through the centuries. The rejection of past dogma instead represents some kind of advancement in theological thinking. Now this could be looked at as new revelations correcting wrong positions caused by misinterpretation of the Bible, or it could be the result of listening and being guided by the wrong things with the resulting decisions taking society and individuals farther from God instead of closer to Him.

truth-combined-copy

The latter is my position! Many changes have taken place in our society which has cast doubt on the Bible’s relevance in the 20-21st century, and more modern type thinking has created an illusion that certain behaviors condemned by the Bible are actually positive things. The Bible’s view of those things are considered outdated ideas by writers who didn’t have access to the knowledge of today. This could be amplified quite a bit but the end result is that society thinks it has a better idea on what is “good” and what is “evil” and many parts of the Church has bought into that.

The side effect of this for the Church is that the whole Bible will eventually be  relegated to an “outdated” status and hence our moorings to God’s Truth will be completely sundered.

rope-broken-men-s-hands-27749314

And  we  may think that accepting some of these things will put us in a better position but instead this will only end up creating  a kind of domino affect which will topple many other Christian teachings as well. The ruling authority of our lives will end up being those things which  sinful human nature will contrive to be appropriate. Not a good thing!

So what is wrong with the  Church practices  of today which is causing so much confusion? There are many things but one of the primary things that has occurred, which creates some difficulty in discussing some of these issues, is that while the Bible has been emphasized in certain matters, it is done  in such a way as to be isolated from the complete context of the rest of the Bible. The Bible ends up competing against itself!  An example is when the Gospels are emphasized over the Epistles of Paul, somehow the Gospels have precedence since Christ’s actual words are within the Gospels. What we lose by this is context and amplification. Christ really said very little about many topics but He also knew those same topics would be addressed more fully  through his leaders, which was accomplished with the writings of the rest of the New Testament.  To break apart the Bible in a hierarchical manner like this destroys the unity of the message.

gospelsMatthew, Mark, Luke, John

dlc-chart50

Another thing is that Christians have fallen into the same trap as some Jews in the New Testament, who had a hard time accepting the new role they would have with Christ’s arrival. In John 6:44 Christ castigates the Jews who listened to his Bread of Life sermon because of their unbelief: “How can you believe, which receive honour of one another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”. They wanted the honor from man and not God! We act like that as well! The worse kind of peer pressure!

i-am-the-bread-of-life-jesus1

Also in Luke 6:26, there is a relevant verse which Christ addressed to his disciples: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets”.  I personally think this is the most alluring, who doesn’t want to be accepted! Along with this is the idea that the Church could be left behind from all the “progress” that is being achieved. Again, the opinion of “man” is what counts!

In our society as Christian influence has waned, becoming relevant has become a strategy to somehow “appeal” more widely to society, but the cost of that has been the sacrifice of true and proper Biblical teachings. Christ knew that his teachings often would be troublesome in some ways as stated in Matthew 10:34 “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword”. One of the major issues testing the Church has been homosexuality (I think this may be the make or break issue of  true Christian influence today) and the related lifestyles summarized by the initials LGBTQ (some groups even have more letters). These letters stand for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or questioning).

tumblr_niz15tSUth1s91yx0o1_1280     How do we reconcile this?

As the sexual revolution has created major successes among these groups, especially in light of the Supreme Court announcement that gay marriage should be legal in all 50 states, the Church has found itself on the outside looking in. Some denominations and parts of denominations had already made doctrinal decisions regarding homosexuality and its acceptance. These decisions have been problematic and has initiated much turmoil within those denominations. Other denominations have stayed true to the Biblical teaching which treats homosexuality as sin. Still others are in the process of making a decision regarding these matters.

But the Supreme Court decision of June 2015 has ushered in the next stage in these changes because it gives a veneer of legality to homosexuality and which will and has created a pressure to those Christian groups who have resisted acceptance of homosexuality. Some churches before the Court’s decision had already made their decision about it, with some accepting homosexuality, others were still contemplating up to that decision and has since accepted homosexuality as being legitimate after the Court’s decision, while others have said an emphatic “no!” following the decision, as far as that group is concerned  nothing has changed Biblically just because the Court ruled. This last group will feel the most pressure as time continues.

justices  What damage have they accomplished?

I fear those churches who have already accepted homosexuality are lost and probably can’t be changed. They have started on a path which can only lead to more rejection of God’s “true” Truth. Romans 1 illustrates the nature of the lifestyle when rejection of God occurs. Unfortunately, those churches who have utilized the Supreme Court decision to finally embolden them to finally come out in favor of homosexuality may have time to change but I have my doubts towards those as well. Two groups which fall into this situation involve the Mennonite Church USA.

Two of their schools, Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College had been contemplating changes that involved the acceptance of committed homosexual couples on their faculty. This issue had been in discussion for a number of years and on July 16th it was decided  by them to finally accept those couples in committed same-sex relationships as members of their faculty. Did the supreme Court decision embolden them? The timing suggests that it did!

emu Thy Word is what?

Seal-solid-black

It remains to be seen if the wider denomination will punish them somehow, but this is a critical and major decision time for that denomination regarding their future spiritual effectiveness. In contrast the Church of God in Cleveland counseled their pastors to hold true to the Biblical view of marriage, which is between one man and woman, and also encouraged them to not allow their facilities to be used for anything associated with homosexual marriage ceremonies. That is the correct stand. They understand that any acceptance, albeit “innocent”, such as even offering places for receptions, can draw one away from the Truth and make sinful lifestyles seem somewhat more “palatable”. I applaud the Church of God for their statement!

The stand one makes, or in the context of this article, the decision one makes,  is important because a trial is coming to true believers. There is a spiritual darkness hovering over this land and things can only get worse for those Christians who accept the Bible in its totality. With this Court decision other pressures will eventually be brought to bear with the endpoint being aimed at making Christian groups conform to acceptance of the gay lifestyle. The use of federal funds by schools and churches is one method which can now be used by the government to apply pressure. Also, the tax-exempt status of religious institutions can be threatened with removal if conformity to homosexuality is not assured. Court cases can be brought aginst religious institutions regarding hiring practices. What then, is the importance of this? It is decision time! All these things will involve decisions about God and His truth to be made, tough decisions, not only by individuals but by denominations. Will we stand for God and accept what comes or will we strive to receive the “honor” from man? If we make the wrong one we run the risk of becoming “salt which has lost its savor”, and become irrelevant as far as God is concerned!

Now the Bible has many references to decisions, it is not a new thing. There is a “valley of decison” where multitudes stand on the Day of the Lord. There is a “broad” and “narrow” way, Matthew 7:13-14, whose course is determined by the choice made for God. The “broad” way is broad because it is the easier course to follow and many follow that course. That helps explain why it is so easy for churches to reject the truths of God but makes it so hard to repent! Wrong decisions never solves problems when decisions involve sin. The “narrow” way is narrow because it takes effort for this path. Following God’s Truth completely is difficult, that is why it is the narrow path. Many groups have left the “narrow way”.

broad

Consider the Boy Scouts, they have left the “narrow way”. They also thought that by changing their philosophy to allow openly homosexual boys to be scouts, that this would vent the pressure being applied to them. Wrong! While it did make them receive some “honor from man”, it wasn’t enough . Now they are on the verge of allowing openly gay scout adult leaders and this has occurred because of more pressure applied to them from outside groups. They will eventually conform and receive even more “honor from “man”, but they will be irrelevant as far as true Christian influence is concerned. My only hope for them is that they dissolve as a group and become part of history!

The Church should heed these events when faced with upcoming trials about homosexuality and other issues. The dismantling of the Church is occurring, the Church which stands for the real truth, that is!  We need to be like Joshua who assembled the Israelites before dispersing into the Promise Land and encouraged them 24:15 thus:

“choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

That same decision process remains today, who are we going to serve, man or God? Very simple choice!

W008_2415shield_ws

Babies

history repeat

I wonder if society ever really learns from history, substantively that is, since evil has so many forms, the hard question is whether it reappears under a different guise and can we recognize it as such. That makes it harder to judge.

Consider Nazi Germany and its atrocities towards Jews (as well as other groups). How did they get away with that? Of course society then was structured in such a way that the technologies of today, which would have made this kind of action impossible, at least in the USA, was not present in the Nazi era. The “police state” mentality also created fear among the people, that acts of “speaking up” was reduced. Hence the killing machine continued.

Another method to cover up the true nature of their acts was the use of euphemism. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “the substitution of an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant”. Language was a great way to “cover a multitude of sins”. It steered one’s mind towards ideas or mental pictures which made sense, especially when those things were related to other noncontroversial, agreeable  ideas. An example–referring to the Jews as a “cancer” which needed to be removed. Who can argue with the negative aspects of cancer? The mind would in some sense be mollified as long as there was not too great of a shock to its sensibilities.

While euphemism can only go so far, it is a powerful weapon for those who want to conceal the hideousness of some action encouraged by some group. A partial list of some of the euphemisms that Nazis used intheir communications:

-treated appropriately
-conveyed to special measures
-exterminated
-special treatments
-cleansing
-evacuation (abortion language also)
-etc.

A TEST:  Do these phrases accurately summarize scenes such as this one:

holocaust00_1 Which phrase above would fit here?

The thing about language is that it can stand as a barrier to the full understanding of a situation. Police and military typically use the word “target” to refer to the people they may have to engage, maybe even kill. Sometimes that action is necessary and so the language that is part of their training tends towards a more objective use and not subjective. If the humanity of the individuals was highlighted too much, it would make it harder to do the unpleasant but sometimes necessary job!

Now these officers and soldiers know what the “target” is, but that objectivity which euphemism gives is necessary in these cases. But there is the other side as well. Euphemism can be use for nefarious purposes such as the way  it was utilized by the Nazi regime illustrated above.

History! Do we think the Nazi atrocities would never be repeated again? Probably! In the exact form that occurred back then, probably not. But what about the Nazi principle of wiping out whole groups? Could that be repeated in some form?  Yes! And many would argue that the abortion industry mimics the Nazi ideology in principle. Instead of Jews, the targeted group are babies in the womb.

And just like in Germany, the rhetoric of the abortionists is full of euphemisms which deflects from the barbarity of the acts committed on those babies.

Some abortion euphemisms:

-reproductive health
-women’s health
-economic security
-terminate a pregnancy
-interrupt a pregnancy
-between a woman and a doctor
-emergency contraception
-evacuate the womb
-private family matters
-not a full human, only potential-right-to-privacy
-etc.

These all are used in strategic ways based on the size of the baby at the time the abortion takes place. For example, it is hard to look at a partial-birth abortion done at eight and a half months as being justified with the excuse that it is only a potential human and so no harm done. A six weeks old baby in the womb, though, is easier to be labeled that way. But one can possible use such euphemisms such as “economic security”, “private family matter”, etc. for partial-birth abortion to deflect from what is a gruesome dismemberment of a baby, BUT if the result is actually viewed as below, does it deflect?

Abortion-1-300x208 So, what phrase fits this the best?

Planned Parenthod has been in the news lately with hidden videos showing various leaders talking about the sale of baby body parts which may be intact after the abortion. What is equally alarming is those groups who justify these videos and they justify it through euphemisms. Some examples:

1. Rolling Stone magazine says first video was “deceptively edited”.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/3-absurd-conservative-reactions-to-the-planned-parenthood-sting-20150717

2. “Generous and altruistic” is how one of the participants on this MSNBC broadcast describe this issue, I don’t know how that overcomes what the Planned Parenthood videos are discussing!

http://mediamatters.org/video/2015/07/21/msnbcs-now-with-alex-wagner-highlights-the-extr/204521

 

In the Planned Parenthood videos the doctors use various phrases to indicate how techniques can be changed to minimize the damage done to various “desirable”body parts and so acquire the best parts and receive  the highest dollar amounts for those parts. Probably the sickest phrase is the phrase “less crunchy technique” which one of the doctors uses to describe a method that would minimize the damage of the abortion.

These videos have a sickening quality to them, not only the callousness which is shown by their cavalier attitude towards the baby, but one of the videos are filmed while the doctor is eating a salad and drinking wine. Another one mentions that maybe a Lamborghini could be in her future from the monetary gain! It shouldn’t be that nonchalant!

Evil is an enigma, especially the way it can coexist with those qualities which are considered good by anyone’s standards. This phenomenon creates a kind of “chimera”, one part can be guilty of the most heinous actions and the other part carries on life like everyone else without any controversial aspect to it. Many serial killers have a remarkable aptitude in this kind of behavior. Sound similar?

While in the abortion industry there is safety in numbers and so these doctors in these videos are justified by some of their peers, but to the rest of us it comes off as Josef Mengele-like.  Consider that some of these abortion doctors can dismember other women’s babies during the day and go home at night to their own children afterwards. That is how evil can be an enigma. But history is full of those kinds of enigmas, as well as repeated practices!

The past hasn’t been too kind to children (and the last 40 years hasn’t either with 50-60 million killed in the USA alone). In Biblical times the Israelites were warned not to sacrifice children to the god Moloch by being “passed through the fire”. Abortion has been likened to a kind of “sacrifice” to the individualistic, selfish, attitude of today’s society. In Rome a father could sell his sons up to three times before they were free, infants could be abandoned  anywhere if a defect was apparent, or if the child was illegitimate, the family was already too big, and a number of other reasons. Christianity coming onto the scene changed the status of children and they became seen more as “gifts of God”. How we have changed!

According to some, a baby in the womb is seen as a gift from God, which is right! But by others, as a burden to be relieved through abortion, which is detestable.  And now, a baby is seen as a source of income through the selling of its parts, if those parts remain intact. And Planned Parenthood is at the head of that economy! The doctors in the video mulled over the price of certain parts, some parts obviously more valuable than others. The chemicals in your body according this source is worth around $1985.77 give or take.

https://bgoodscience.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/body-for-sale-how-are-your-chemical-components-worth/

How much, then, are the sum of your parts? Ask Planned Parenthood , they have the inside track on that! And it will be a lot more than the chemicals above! And they know how to haggle over prices as well. Such a fine business! But since Christianity improved life for children when it entered the world through Christ, it would be appropriate to contrast God’s view of babies in the womb and an amazing difference emerges:

Psalm 139: 13-16

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16  your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

A bit different from those abortion doctors who only see dollar signs and profits. God looks at us from the beginning as a wonderful work!

Finally, how did we get here?

Some reasons:
1. Evolution theory–mankind is just like the beasts, no difference value wise
2. Neglect of the Christian worldview which placed mankind, even those in the womb, as special above the rest of Creation.
3. Legal system, e.g. Roe v. Wade decision which gives a veneer of legitimacy through legal reasoning.
4. Philosophies which have permeated many places such as those by the ethicist Peter Singer, who doesn’t have a problem ending pregnancies, and even goes so far as to justify the taking of a baby who has just been born, if that baby has certain undesirable defects etc.
5. Plain irresponsibilityand selfishness.

But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, we can’t escape what we know deep down, where our conscience lies. And unless we are like those doctors in the video, who have become so callous that their conscience is literally “seared” from feeling any “human” emotion towards those babies, when reality does intrude, such as watching these videos, we react.

These videos have engaged that “conscience” about humanness which is within us, and we are sickened. Sometimes pictures are worth a 1000 words, which is why videos of abortions are frowned upon by pro-abortion advocates, some things euphemisms can’t disguise! Sometimes talking truthfully about the actual actions are eye opening as well, which is what these videos portray.

But what is worse is this, the sentiments expressed in these videos is the “natural” product of all the things which has produced the abortion industry. A startling fact is this, if the baby in the womb is really not human then selling its body parts means nothing, why not sell them? It is just tissue which would be discarded anyhow. And while we are at it, why not do experiments of all kinds, it is not human so why not? And on and on!!

This could be a defining moment in the spiritual crisis this society is going through, we now have irrefutable evidence of the “truth” of the abortion industry. What will we do? Leaving Christianity helped to get us here, returning to Christianity  will be our way out! Megyn Kelley, after watching one of the videos commented about why hearing the words of these doctors in these videos is so troublesome (paraphrase). How we answer that will determine a lot about other social issues of the day, AND our spiritual survival.

Iran (Persia) in the Bible

Iran (or Persia) is prominent in certain Bible verses pertaining to Bible prophecy. Present day Iran doesn’t encompass the entire geographic region it once did when it enjoyed its status as an “empire”, but it encompasses the main part of it. Iran of today also still enjoys the connection with its former empire days. It is not unreasonable that the references to Persia in the Bible pertains to Iran of today.

Iran has been one of the main topics in the news today because of the nuclear arms treaty negotiations with the USA.  Also, the objections over the deal by Israel and many people in the USA  has garnered much attention. Based on what side one is on, the deal is either the best thing to lead to a peaceful world which has come along in awhile, or, a potential precursor to WWIII,  with Israel being the primary focus.

With these tensions, it is only natural to those who consider themselves students of prophecy to try to situate this into the “end-times” perspective of the Bible. This is not unimportant since Persia is mentioned specifically in some important verses of the prophet Ezekiel, and the attack on Israel at some time in the future which this prophecy indicates.

Two other verses in the Bible are important when discussions of Iran and the future are discussed.

Isaiah 44:28-45:1 which says:

That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut. KJV

cyrus                                                                                   Cyrus

Isaiah was a prophet the years approximately 740s – 698, 150-200 years or so before a ruler named Cyrus even arose. His prediction was amazing since an individual was named. Cyrus happened to be the first ruler of the Persian Empire which began when Cyrus  overcome the Babylonian empire in 550 B.C.. Most of the Israelites had already been deported to Babylon many years before. When Cyrus overcame Babylon, one of the things he did was to allow Israelites to go back to Jerusalem, their former capital, and rebuild the temple, eventually they would also be allowed to rebuild the city. This story is in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. The decree by Cyrus concerning the temple was a major historical event for Israel and God had used a gentile to make this major event possible, and that was also very unique.

All through the time of Persian empire, which lasted until Alexander the Great, Israel basically enjoyed good relations with Iran. The only  negative time was during the time of Esther, in which a man named Haman tried to have all the Jews killed, but Esther, with the help of her father Mordecai,  was able to intercede for the Jewish people with the king of Persia, who is thought to be Artaxerxes I (464 – 425 BC). The full story is in the Book of Esther. A continual Jewish presence has remained in Persia for centuries and even today, although a lot smaller, there are still Jews in Iran.

One of the things in todays news is the overt hostility between Israel and Iran. Israel considers Iran the supreme enemy of the Jewish State and Iran routinely calls for the destruction of Israel. An example :

http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/23/iran-supreme-leader-the-only-solution-for-crisis-is-israels-destruction/

There is a conundrum in this whole issue–how did the relationship become so bitter and so ultimate when there had been such a positive relationship? When modern history of the relationship between Israel and Iran is analyzed, there doesn’t seem to have been such animosity building up that we should now be witnessing the call of one nation publicly desiring the total destruction of the other.

In the 19th century when the Zionist movement was forming, Iran didn’t support it, but the Jews and Iran still had a basically good relationship. When partition took place and Israel finally became a State in 1948, Iran voted against the partition, but Iran still maintained a basically positive contact with the Jewish State.

Iran and Israel probably enjoyed its best relationship, even though now a State,  under the Shah of Iran, who ruled from 1941 until 1979 when the  Islamic Revolution overthrew him. That Islamic revolution ushered in the period when religious views drove much of the politics, and even then, through much of the 1980s, Israel and Iran still had a decent relationship and there is the fact that Israel didn’t consider Iran a threat through that time period.

So where did it begin to go wrong? It seems 1992 was a turning point. Israel in 1992 elected Yitzhak Rabin who felt that peace with its immediate neighbors would benefit Israel. The OSLO Accords was the beginning of the effort to make peace with many of the Arab states immediately surrounding Israel. Iran was not one of those “immediate” neighbors and so this left Iran on the edge of Israel’s radar as far as importance and hence created some animosity.

oslo                                                  Yitzhak Rabin,  Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat

During all this time of Iran and Israel’s relationship, at least since the Zionist movement of the 19th century, many Iranian clerics and leaders were vocal about the Jewish people and maintained that Jewish people were a threat to Islam and Muslims in general. And especially when the Israeli State was formed, this only intensified the attitude among these clerics and leaders.This anti-Israel view now began to be taken more seriously in Iranian politics, and this was because of OSLO. Iran began  to back those anti-Israel sentiments with more political actions, primarily by hindering the Peace Process however it could and also with a military buildup, even nuclear. These things would, at least in Iran’s mind,  result in making them still an important factor in the Middle East, which they feared was being minimized by OSLO.

Benjamin Netanyahu was then elected Prime Minister in 1996 and he slowed down the Peace Process because he didn’t like the agreement. He had to honor it because of his predecessor but he also tried to work against it as well. He also wanted to cultivate a better  relationship with Iran which had suffered because of OSLO. While that did occur, the anti-Israel sentiment and military buildup attitude was now entrenched in Iranian thinking. A definite shift had taken place in their relationship.

106px-Benjamin_Netanyahu                                                                          Netanyahu in 1996

In spite of all these various things, Israel and Iran still had basic contact with each other all the way up to 2005.This is what makes today’s headlines and the animosity between the two countries seem so dramatic, it was such a fall!  At the same time Iran and the USA was going through its own evolution in their relationship and with George Bush’s “Axis of Evil” statement in 2002, which included Iran, the relationship between Iran and the USA began to sour. This is important because Israel and the USA would be eventually be linked as the two most dangerous enemies of Islam and Muslims.

2005 comes along and the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was vehemently against a Jewish State and made many critical and controversial statements regarding Israel. There was one quote about Israel being wiped off the map, which may have been a mistranslation, but even so, that quote, mistranslated or not, only helped to strengthen an already growing anti-Israel sentiment and relations Israel and Iran deteriorated quickly. Ahmadinejad seemed to have cultivated a climate of hatred towards the Jewish State for many years and made it inevitable that the two countries would have to clash.

iran quote

Hassan Rouhani, who has been President of Iran since 2013, has continued the critical stance towards Israel, and with the nuclear capability of Iran now becoming more of a reality, the relationship between Israel and Iran can’t get much worse apart from a war. I think a shift in this whole relationship, which now may be unfixable, occurred with Ahmadinejad’s election.

rouhani Hassan Rouhani

The anti-Israel sentiments seems to have metastasized and, given the Iranians desire for nuclear weapons and their progress towards those weapons, and, even though a nuclear arms deal may have been concluded with the USA, a physical collision between Israel and Iran seems inevitable. And that is what the Bible predicts!

Ezekiel is another prophet who prophesied from approximately 594-574 B.C.. Ezekiel 38-39 mentions many details about a future battle between Israel and a number of other peoples. Persia (or Iran) leads this group, implying they are the main group emphasized. This seems to make sense because Iran of today is blamed for contributing many resources to Israel’s neighbors for terrorist activities. Iran is also blamed for much of the instability of the Middle East! They seem to want a coalition of people to stand with them against Israel! The verses in Ezekiel 38 that mentions Persia is:

Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you. NIV

 

One of the things regarding Bible prophecy is that the fulfilment is guaranteed, how it gets there is left up to history. It is a little surprising how the history of the Israel and Iranian relationship has  reached such a plateau of hostility. But there are other verses in Exekiel 38 which seems to indicate that the national thinking of Iran and this group changes suddenly and so it had to occur at some point:

10 Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:

11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,

12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land. KJV

These verses indicate the desire to attack Israel at some point and though that hasn’t happened yet, this political change which Iran and Israel has undergone in the last few years seem to be the kind of precursor which is needed before a war can be desired and attempted. The venom, which some in Iran have towards Israel, wouldn’t make it a surprise if an attack on Israel is attempted fairly soon.

In summary, Iran (Persia) had been a positive influence towards Israel for centuries. It is only lately that the relationship has really soured. This seems to be backed by the prophecies of Ezekiel which shows Iran has to becom a major enemy of Israel. Although these plans  of war will transpire, the result of that attempt will be catastrophic for Iran and its group. More on that later!

 

  

UTOPIA

The call to remove the official state song of Maryland for a different one has been revived again. The confederate-leaning lyrics, which is within this song, is just too much for the present PC crowd to allow.

http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/symbols/lyricsco.html

Everything around our nation is being analyzed for the “cleansing”. Even poor confederate leaders who have been interred in graves for over a hundred years is still causing enough havoc that disinterment is the order of the day for those poor fellows. Talking about being a nuisance beyond the grave!

forrest Nathan Bedford Forrest   Memphis, TN

The Civil War is still continuing, I guess, in these people’s minds! The “removal” of our history is what is at stake in all these scenarios, which are increasing by the way and promises to reach into every road sign, every building, every ship, every anything which may have even a hint of confederacy about it. I believe a literal removal of everything related to confederates is the only thing that will satisfy these “zealots for a better today”! With so much of our educational system in the hands of the PC crowd even the history can be rewritten, (but first it has to be removed from sight, we wouldn’t want anything visual to contradict the new view) so as to fit the UTOPIA these folks are trying to create. One unresolved problem may emerge though, I don’t know what we are to do with the descendants of the confederates! Maybe there should be an official day of renouncement, a day when the confederate ancestors of today publicly renounce the past followed by a solemn promise to stay committed to the present PC regime.

Utopia: “any visionary scheme or system for an ideally perfect society”. (From Webster’s Dictionary)

Utopia desires have been around for a long time. There was a “Golden Age of Greece” which supposedly reflected some utopia type society in Greece’s past. There is also Plato’s Republic which created an ideal society. Closer to our time Robert Owen tried a utopia settlement called New Harmony. Even in the 1960s the hippies and their communes could be considered some “base” attempt at a utopia. And then there is the Garden of Eden which Adam and Eve managed to get exiled from. There are also other kinds of specialized utopia ideas, the one that caught my attention was Buckminster Fuller’s idea of a “Technological Utopia”, in which technology would somehow create the “perfect” society. While that has been criticized, technology does have a role to play in the utopia I see forming today.

New_harmony_vision  New Harmony:   Envisioned but never built!

Utopias are generally sought after and planned, but what I see today is an “invisible” utopia being formed. Though it will be eventually recognized as such by the masses, right now this utopia is undergoing birthpangs, the main pillars of its foundation are still being formed and strengthened. What is this utopia and what plan is this “invisible” utopia following? The utopia is a utopia of “SELF” and the plan it is following is one in which some of the sinful actions of “self” are being considered positive actions and rethought as a new kind of freedom, clearly opposite of what the Bible has taught!

I believe what is happening today, especially in the US, is that Western Civilization and its Christian influence is being rejected for this new idea of freedom. Once it was thought by many and preached and taught by many that true freedom is found in the God of the Bible and the acceptance of the salvation plan of Christ. True freedom comes from the deliverance of sin and its consequences! There seems to be a reversal of ideas, those actions once considered sin are now positive things, those things which once separated us from God, now actually witness God’s character instead (think of homosexual love), those things which sometimes took discipline and resolve to overcome, now is said should be practiced with the full blessing of God, or at least with a clear conscience.

How did this get turned around so? What has happened over the course of time is that the true beliefs of God and the Bible had slowly been rejected in different ways and reinterpreted in different ways. Societal changes took place at the same time and the sense of freedom to do what was desired, without restraint, became too much to stop. Hence those things were justified even more so and then other actions, which once were frowned upon, started being justified. The main actions I am referring to stems from the sexual revolution of the 1960s, which combined with no-fault divorce and abortion, created a major change in our society. Following these things, the homosexual movement took off, gained strength, and now through the Supreme Court, homosexual marriage is legal in all 50 states. The net result is that a moral and ethical system based upon sin had been created and codified and justified through various agencies of society, and, more sinful actions will eventually come under this umbrella of permissible activities.

When God is rejected, a spiritual effect occurs. God steps back and allows the consequences of the actions to take place. When this happens on a societal scale then the consequences can become more catastrophic because more people are affected and the variety of the effects increase. If God is rejected even further, eventually He gives us over completely to our destructive thinking and allows that to take us in whatever direction it may go. I believe we have reached that point in the US and the rest of the world is not too far behind. The cumulative effect of our actions in this society has produced a rejection of God’s true intent and replaced it with what we think is important. Language about God is still invoked but that is lacking in any real substantive thought. What we have replaced God with in essence, is the basic problem of sin–SELF! This  is a utopia, unplanned but still real, and it  has to be continually justified and molded.

This is nothing new, it is the same problem which occurred in the Garden of Eden. God wanted Adam and Eve to do this and Adam and Eve wanted to do the opposite. Hence they got tossed out! Society has now reached a place where it is tired of listening to God and instead it wants to do what it wants to do! The utopia which is forming (and has formed to a large degree) is the utopia of “self”, and society still is very important because it has the structure and power to ensure the success of the desires of “self”. Hence the culture wars we are experiencing are the clashes of these two views–sin vs. God’s values! In this new world there seems to be only one absolute–“do no harm to others”. As long as that is adhered to, then all actions are allowed! The problem with utopias is the “perfect” part. What is to be done to those who don’t buy into this scheme, and worse, what is to be done who want to stop it. This leads us into the strategy of the culture war and how it is being fought.

Force is one method against those who oppose this utopia, which “utopias” of the 20th century tried to utilize, and I am talking about the regimes such as communist Russia,  Mao’s China, etc. Though these regimes don’t automatically conjure up the image of a utopia, the leaders did try to form a “perfect” society, albeit a bad one! Force, though, left too much of a bad taste, in our time that would probably be a last resort.

stalinjoseph-stalin_o_2678017

In the book “Utopia: The Perennial Heresy” by Thomas Molnar, written in 1967, there is a chapter called Passage to Utopia, in which a number of tools are explained as being important to the creation of a utopia. His book is still relevant for today. Since government is important to the present utopia and its formation, and that is so only because the members of our government have absorbed these same cultural influences and are trying to use its power to “open” the way for people to do what it desires, then other avenues can be pursued to maintain and strengthen this utopia.

MolnarThomas-1967

One thing Molnar mentions the welfare state as an important transition. This is so since dependence on government carries with the fear of “upsetting the hand that feeds you”. One of the things that autopia needs is compliance, someone may not agree, but one defintely shouldn’t publicly disagree. If one is dependent on the government, then silence is gained, if nothing else. Our nation has millions dependent on the government in so many areas, will they object to the utopia which is forming?

Another tool Molnar mentions is education. This affects the young, if the young can be persuaded and if they are the future leaders, then those things which are taught to the young will become part of society. This entails not only recreating the history of the past but also rewriting history to give validity to the new ideas of the utopia. Hence in the US there is a desire for kids to be taught at earlier ages so the “programming” can become more effective. Public education gets all the resources, private education has to fend for itself too often. Colleges neglect many topics of the past so that more modern ideas can be instilled in the students. All too often these are ideas that justify this societal change against Western Civilization and Christianity, which is really the main impediments to the utopia of self just flowering full bloom. It is important then, that education is controlled by the group who wants to be the most influential!

A third thing Molnar mentions is the idea of a “new man”. This new man should not be static, which culture, virtues, convictions, and knowledge provides but instead should be mobile and dynamic, “adaptable to the global and possibly cosmic adventure of mankind”. If absolutes are given up which Christianity had provided, then everyone can be open to new ideas and thoughts. This allows for utopian thoughts to be very influential. The idea that mankind can solve any problem through technology and science is really opens the way for this new, dynamic way of thinking. In a way we can play God and so control our destiny in a lot of ways. In times past there was an understanding that sin has affected this world and that there is only so much we can realistically do, that attitude is disappearing quickly.

A thing which Molnar didn’t really expound upon, he had totalitarian governments in his view and the US was definitely not that during the time of this book, is how democratic governments, not the totalitarian ones he was analyzing, can be such a force for change in a utopian. One of the disappointing things of today is how the Supreme Court is so unwiling to force our society to accept things which contradict our 5000 years of history. This has split our country into two groups, one with the backing of law, the other with the backing of tradition and history. This clash will continue, and, it will be an impediment to the utopia being formed. How that is resolved will be interesting.

Another thing which has really changed things and makes it too easy to honor “self” is the expansion of technology. From Bruce Jenner becoming a “woman” to designer babies, the sky is the limit on personal desires and technology promises to deliver. “If it can be done, it is right for it to be done”. That seems to be the motto, as long as, no harm is done to someone else for yours or my personal decisions regarding technology.

Now, back to my first paragraph whcih seems far away. What was the point of introducing the confederate issue? This happens to be an illustration of the kind of fightswe have as the utopian desires clash with the other side. If the utopia which is forming is one centered on “self”, identity politics becomes a political force.  After all, as individuals we don’t want to be looked down upon, ridiculed, slighted, offended, etc. These things then, contradict the utopia rule about harming someone else. So any slight which someone feels can be looked at as a “harm” and so has to be fixed. The confederacy, its history, its symbols, offend people. It is an imperfection which has to be corrected! Utopias can’t handle imperfection! The confederacy now represents an imperfection and has to be eliminated.

What then, is our future? Here is a simple equation:  Utopia + totalitarinaism = dystopia. Why does totalitarianism appear here? Since all opposition has to be dealt with, persuasion will only go so far, society will have to become more totalitarian in its responses to those who disagree. This will usher in the vision of Orwell in his novel 1984, with Big Brother etc. The end result is that this utopia will fail, as they all do!

1984 futile

orwell

More on this later!!

Upon This Rock

A headline caught my attention the other day. Although the substance of the article was not that inspiring or irritating, the headline did spark some thoughts. The headline was :”Does Legal Gay Marriage Doom Evangelical Christianity?”

The link is http://www.huffingtonpost.com/clay-naff/does-legal-gay-marriage-d_b_7677560.html

Interesting question which actually has an easy and simple answer: NO! Though sentiments, especially among the youth, seem to indicate that the anti-gay message is becoming history, much like the acceptance of blatant racism, there is more to evangelical Christianity than politics. And while Western Civilization has just about totally rejected its Christian heritage, that still doesn’t mean the end of evangelical Christianity.

The writer of the article thinks that  evangelicals are worried about becoming “stigmatized”. There is a partial truth to that charge, but it is for the wrong reason, and, stigmatized is the wrong word anyhow. Evangelicals are not in the public/political sphere just for some kind of power thrill or to become some kind of spiritual “dictator”. They are in it because they know that true happiness and success for individual and society alike resides in the precepts of Christian practice.

What our country has enjoyed these past few hundred years  is an unprecedented blessing from God which has truly set us upon a hill as Reagan said. While everyone was not a Christian, there was enough Christians around and there was enough respect for Christian principles from even those who didn’t claim to be a Christian, that God blessed this whole nation anyway. This country was the place to be. I don’t know how long that will remain since we have truly laid the axe to the root of the tree and chopped it down, that root being the belief and honor  we should unashamedly show concerning the God of the Bible.

 reagan_destiny_principles_shining_city_on_a_hill_postcard-r47f2ae5ed9b24a1e833e9dafbcde6aa4_vgbaq_8byvr_512

Evangelicals will continue, what they regret is the large amount of people who will be caught up in the false illusions of freedom and happiness which this Supreme Court has now sanctioned. Unfortunately when the leaven of this sin has been leavened throughout our whole nation, over time, the recognition of that mistake may come too late for a reversal of fortunes. But, evangelicals will still be there, and the message of hope also.

The reason for that is that the Church was never started to become some political entity. It started with the crucifixion of Christ, survived much persecution in the first few centuries, and extended its influence everywhere. It is based on the hope of a Risen Lord who washed away sin and gave a hope for a spiritual eternity after this life. Christians would try to love by the precepts of the Bible and also would then try to improve the world, not only to help others find Christ evangelically, but also just to aid people as they often times suffered through life. Christians wanted to make the world better.

With the rise of Constantine and the eventual legalizing of the Christian religion, eventually this created Western Civilization (or reenergized it based on what counts as the beginning of Western Civilization), which has persisted for many centuries, until now, wherein I personally think Western Civilization has officially ended, which would be June 26th, 2015 as the official end!

220px-Rome-Capitole-StatueConstantin

But Christianity still is not about those positive things of the past, those things have just been historical bonuses! Christianity  was and still is about one thing, man has fallen and faith in Christ can restore him to his rightful place before God, or, in other words, mankind can receive salvation for his sins. That is still the main import of Christianity. And though evangelicals are disappointed, they are disappointed for what will happen to society, not that some negative attitudes, such as stigma, will now array itself against us. This will make it harder to appeal to society’s sense of its need for God, but the early church didn’t have it easy either!

Now this whole process and results are not surprising, there has been a long, slow assault against Truth for centuries, from the Enlightenment, through the rise of evolution, then the higher criticism of the Bible, the Scopes trial in the 1920s, and finally the official dismantling of Christian influence in society by the Supreme Court through its many decisions. But now that time is officially here and evangelical Christians are on the outside looking in. But we will never cease, Christ said “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (paraphrase).  Evangelical Christianity is ultimately spiritual, it is in God’s hands, no Supreme Court can touch that!! So is this the end of evangelical Christianity? No!

matthew_16_18nlt