RECENT STUFF- E
 THE KINGS SPEECH- Okay- I didn’t see the movie yet [though it’s supposed to be good] and I also didn’t watch President Obama’s speech the other night- but of course I heard the usual spin from the right and the left. From the snippets I did catch- it seems like the President did the best he could do with what he has to work with. Okay- I think the ‘high speed rail’ thing is kinda beating a dead horse at this stage of the game- sure- would I like to zip real fast around the country without having to go thru the plane molestation procedure- yeah. But in reality, even if we managed to accomplish it- it would basically serve the needs of the ‘blue states’ the most. I love the North East- grew up in Jersey- but its kinda playing to your base when you promote a major investment that will primarily benefit the home team. All in all there really isn’t a whole lot the President can do to turn things around. Though the stock market broke the 12,000 mark yesterday- in reality we have a long way to go before the country as a whole experiences real recovery. This year we are probably going to have more home foreclosures than last year. Last year we topped just over a million- this year it’s projected to be around a million and a half- we start the year with 5 million home owners 3 months or more behind in their payments- not good. Unemployment is still very high- 9.4 %- and we are still spending way more than we can afford as a country. The 3 main expenses of our govt. are the military- Medicare/aid and social security. Now I realize social security is not ‘part of the budget’ in the sense of borrowing and spending- yet we do have to address the reality that too few workers are expected to support too many retired folk- we need to change some things- and politicians in general don’t have the stomach for it. The military budget is another taboo- we can’t keep spending the amount we have been- this doesn’t mean we need to back down on national defense- but do we really need to keep hundreds of thousands of troops all around the globe- 50 thousand still in Germany- we need to retool this thing. Overall we have some major adjustments that need to be made- and we can’t just say ‘cut’ nor do I think the answer is ‘spend more’ we need to spend more wisely- and cut wisely. When talking about saving millions/billions by taking away a benefit from a person who is really in need- or saving a billion in one slice from some plane the military says they don’t even need- then of course- don’t keep the plane! Yet at the same time- there are lots of cases of people gaming the system. Look- I have lots of friends- for many years- who have gotten disability checks- or sold food stamps- or used the food card- to buy drugs. One of my buddies- been gone for a while now [Fla.] used to get his monthly check from the govt. [S.S. disability] and the entire check [around 500] was spent on crack- gone in 2-3 days. Okay- we have a problem with this system. Many years ago- while working as a firefighter- I got into the whole ‘buyacheap house- fix it- rent it- sell it’. It was okay- made some money. After a while I made a conscious decision to get out of the whole thing- though I had lots of ‘preacher’ friends- who were ‘preaching money’ all the time- I mean the whole message was wealth- yet out of the whole bunch- I probably was the ‘richest one’ and I was the only one preaching against it! So I finally got out. I had a buddy at the Fire House- a new guy who came all the way from California just to take the job [it was a little strange for someone to move from Ca. to our little town for the job] and he was a few years older than me- but I had worked as a firefighter a lot longer. So as time rolled by he told me he still had a condo in Ca. and his renters were tearing up the place- lots of problems- things I was all too aware of. I advised him to sell- because Ca. has this screwed up system [because of their property tax] where the value of the residence is much more than what you could make onrent [I think he was getting around 800 a month on a condo worth 250 thousand] I told him- from a purely financial view- that this was a bad investment. That if I were him- I would ‘get out while the getting’s good’ [it was right before the big drop in the Ca. market] and that I would maybe buy a rental or 2 from the money- residentials were going for around 80 thousand at the time- nice rental homes that you could rent for 1000 a month- and that I would simply stick the rest of the money in some safe return instrument. Sure enough he sold- made the money- and told me all about these financial seminars he was attending. He also refused my advice- he was taught that you should spend every penny of the profit from the previous sale- to avoid paying taxes on the profit. I told him ‘yes- in theory it sounds good- but I’m giving you practical advice from experience- you should not blow all the profit- you need to keep some back for expenses’. So he didn’t listen- spent it all on 3 homes in San Antonio and later told me as the end of the year came up- that he was having trouble paying the huge tax bill. He also was going to invest all the rental profit into a life insurancepolicy- and instead of making interest income that would be taxed- he would take a loan from his policy- tax free- and then pay the loan back [with more rental income] in order to avoid the taxes. I told him ‘brother- we are in the middle of the worst insurance company meltdown in the history of the world [AIG] who are these geniuses telling you to put all your cash in an insurance company?’ he took my advice this time. The point? There are real financial difficulties that the country is facing- and there are not any quick fixes to get out- it’s going to be tough for a long time. We should all do our best- be charitable- it helps others, as well as yourself- and seek first the kingdom of God [not money!] and all the things you need will be taken care of- at the end make smart financial decisions and trust God as well- it does work.
 WILL WE SUFFER? I was going to doanother post on the Jewish contribution to Modernity- the Jewish thinkers and their contribution to the Western Intellectual Tradition [an ongoing on-line study I’m doing] but instead let me share a few more practical thoughts. The other day I wrote a post on the persecuted Christians in Pakistan- and I had a few Pakistani Pastors email me- thanking me for the web site- telling me it’s been a blessing to them- and even inviting me to speak or start a ministry under our name/title in their country and they would work with me. I of course thanked them for the offer- and just encouraged them to freely use all our stuff- make copies of the books- hand them out- use all of our stuff as much as you wish. I have waved the copyright to all my stuff years ago. Then I caught a quick few minutes of Peirs Morgan- the guy who replaced Larry King- he was interviewing Joel Osteen.Peirs was asking him something about the abuse of money in the modern televangelist world- and Joel answered cautiously- rejecting the title of Prosperity Preacher- and shared the basic theme that God doesn’t want his people being poor and suffering and beat up all the time. I like Joel- I’m very familiar with his belief system- Joel’s dad- John- was one of the pioneers of the Word of Faith movement in this part of Texas- and over the years I even had some ordained ministers who were ordained by Lakewood church [Joel’s church] who were members of the church I started back in the 80’s. So I basically am familiar with the scoop. Okay- the contrast of Joel’s simple remarks- given in a good spirit- just did not fit the lifestyle of the fine Pastors who I had just been in contact with over the past few weeks. Men who have been literally risking their lives- suffering- fellow believers being killed- all the descriptions that Joel felt were not what God wanted for his people. The book of Hebrews says ‘you suffered the loss of your material possessions willfully- knowing that in heaven you have eternal riches that will not fade away’. There is a verse [Proverbs?] that says ‘don’t make me rich- lest I forsake you- don’t make me poor- lest I curse you- just give me what I need’ or ‘those that desire to be rich [just the desire mind you!] have swerved from the true faith and have gone shipwreck’ [1st Timothy 6]. The point I want to make is we often hear snippets of things- things that seem innocent enough, and yet they violate the basic truth of scripture. I am not upset with Joel- Joel is a good man who has the gift of encouraging people- I do not see him as your typical ‘money preacher’ but I just wanted to give you the balance. The apostle Paul spent a few years living with the believers at Ephesus [I think you can read the account in Acts 20- I also wrote on the subject in my commentary on the book of Acts- in the 2-2010 posts] and as he was teaching them- he called the leaders of the church [called elders in the bible- what we would see as Pastors today] down to the shore-and he gave them a going away speech/warning- he told them after he leaves ‘wolves’ will come in- men who will take advantage of the believers- and he goes on and says ‘all the years I was with you- I refused to let you guys support me- I worked day and night- not only to support myself- but to pay the way for the workers I brought with me’ then he says ‘the reason I did this- was to give you preachers an example- so you too would work with your own hands to provide for yourselves’ now- the entire subject of supporting Christian teachers/preachers is a long one- and I’m not against supporting our Pastors/Priests in a moderate way- them having incomes commensurate with the people. But how many times have you ever heard the story I just shared with you? I mean does the average person even know that the apostle Paul taught stuff like this? You would think it was heresy if it weren’t right there in the bible. If you want to read more about this stuff- under the section ‘what is the church’ an ongoing series I’ve been doing for years- I share about this a little more- but today’s point is we need to be careful as preachers- when we view Christianity primarily thru an American lens- I’m sure Joel meant no harm- but there are indeed times when Gods people are persecuted- broken- afflicted- suffering- these are very real situations that many of our brothers and sisters face on a daily basis thru out the world. We don’t want to give them the false impression that they are suffering contrary to the will of God- there are just too many bible passages that say otherwise [ ‘it has not only been given to us to believe on Jesus- but to also suffer with him’ the Apostle Peter- etc. etc.].
 CHRIS MATTHEWS ‘THE PANAMA CANAL IS IN EGYPT’!- Okay- this past week a lot has been going on in the world- I really wanted to title this post ‘we didn’t start the fire’ [Africa’s revolution] but the Matthews thing was too tempting. First- as I write- protestors are in the streets of Egypt- a popular uprising calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Why? The same discontent that we saw on the streets of Europe- low wages- a rich/poor caste system- and an overall economic rebellion- people do not want what they see as an unequal balance. These past few weeks the African continent has beenin a sort of revolt; Tunisia and Ivory Coast want their ‘dictators’ out- Sudan overwhelmingly voted for independence from the north- and Egypt- the most stable Arab country in the region [though Egypt is technically the northern most country on the continent- it really is a major player in the middle eastern conflict- it borders Israel’ssouthern border] is in the middle of a popular uprising that no one expected. Egypt has the largest military in the area- has made peace withIsrael- and has a proud history of a continuous rule dating back all the way to the Pharaohs- for this country to possibly fall into the hands of the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’- the other major political player in the country- this would not be good. Okay- why the title to this post? Last week- yes- Sarah Palin did it again- in a very short response to Obama’s state of the union speech- she criticized Obama for using the term ‘Sputnik Moment’ [it was very weird- to be honest- I’m sure the speechwriter has been removed from his job after this blunder]. And she kindacriticized Obama for pointing to the former Soviet Union as an example of ‘our moment’. So she says the Russians launched their space program –did beat us with the Sputnik satellite in the space race- we came back fiercely under good old J.F.K. and put a man on the moon. In the end we won the race- and the U.S.S.R. lost- plus they eventually bankrupted themselves with their soviet system. So in Palin’s quick response- I guess you could read it like she was blaming the Russian space program for their financial woes- but it just seems like she was making a legit criticism that using ‘the Sputnik Moment’ was way out in left field. Then of course ChrisMatthews spends a few days seriously concerned about the intellectualcriteria for the Tea Party crowd- I mean he asks whether or not they really need to go back to Elementary school and get educated- on and on- Bachman, Palin- etc. So as Matthews is covering the Egyptian story- yes- he talks about the importance of Egypt- and he says one of the major reasons that Egypt is so very vital- is because we ‘all know’ that the Panama Canal is located in Egypt. Okay- if you don’t know history/geography- we can forgive you- but when you spend a week critiquing the ‘low level of intellect’ of your political enemies- and do this- then you too need to take a few moths/years off and simply get an education. I mean it’s possible to not know the whole history of the region- but the PANAM CANAL- in Egypt- It’s the Suez.
 EGYPT, ROUND 2- Wow, I haven’t posted in a few days- and what a few days it has been. The protests in Egypt have the world’s attention- the king of Jordan voluntarily replaced his govt. [he saw the ‘writing on the wall’ an actual biblical story of a finger writing judgment on a wall- announcing judgment on a real king who once lived in the area!] and other ‘quasi’ democracies are shaking in their boots. Okay- what’s happening? Of course you have various theories on what’s really going on. Some [Beck] see a behind the scenes move by the Muslim Brotherhood to institute a modern Muslim Caliphate- where all the Muslim/Arabcountries in the region will eventually join together and attack Israel. There is no doubt that many militant Muslims would want this- yet it does seem like the initial reason for the protests is the reality that the younger generation of Egyptians, who have grown up under a corrupt regime- they are tired of being brutalized by the police and treated with disrespect by their own ‘president’. These Egyptians [some Christian] are wanting Egypt to move forward in the 21st century and to modernize their political process. The present ruler- Hosni Mubarak- took the reins after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Sadat was the first leader of an Arab country to sign an actual peace treaty with Israel  and it led to his killing a couple of years later. Mubarak was Sadat’s right hand military man- and he was elected [Egypt is a Republic- allows for elections- they’re not what you would call a Western Style Democracy]. He has since been ‘re-elected’ to office 5 consecutive times- most outside observers says these elections were rigged. Mubarak attempted to show that he was willing to allow for real elections in 2005- he ran against some nominal names- the real political threat was prohibited from running- and after the corrupt count was in- he won by some unbelievable percentage- and the politician who was deemed the biggest threat to Mubarak was put in jail. That’s the type of ‘Democracy/Republic’ they have. So after 30 years of this kind of rule- the younger generation is fed up. The human rights abuses in Egypt are also very high- the police regularly brutalize their people- and those who have tried to speak out about the abuse- they are retaliated against. Now- what questions should we in the West be asking? First- why have we been sending this country a billion dollars a year in aid?How many other ‘friends’ do we have like this? Countries whose leader is corrupt- yet they side with us politically [Egypt has been our number 1 allyin the Arab world when it comes to ‘peace in the middle east’] and because of these alliances we overlook the abuse of the citizens. Over the years we have tried to nudge Mubarak towards a more open/humane rule- yet he has never seemed to respond to ‘the nudge’. After a while- the U.S. needs to re-think it’s willingness to continue to turn a blind eye to the oppression that these leaders are inflicting on their own people. In the last post I wrote I mentioned how I ‘felt’ like I needed to write a post on Africa [Egypt is in Africa- the other African nation- Tunisia- seemed to spark off the Egyptian protests. The Tunisians began their protests first] I felt like the words/thoughts ‘Africa is on fire’ were running thru my mind for a few days- this was before these protests broke loose. Sometimes these ‘ideas’ are said to be ‘prophetic’ you know- Christian talk that normal people usually don’t use- so let me say- it seemed ‘strange’ that I had these thoughts a few days before the real fires broke out. As I was watching the news last night- my daughter sees all the fires in the streets of Cairo- I explained some of this to her- and I realized it was just a few weeks back that I kept thinking ‘Africa is on fire’. During the news broadcast a woman was asked what’s happening in her country- what does she blame the riots on- she said it was her generations fault [she was an older woman] she said for years the Egyptian people willingly turned a blind eye towards the corruption in their government- she said they sacrificed justice for stability- she said it was their fault that this happened. Sounded so ‘strange’ to hear her describe it like this.
 EGYPT, ROUND 3- Okay, it’s been around 10 days since the protestors took to the streets- where are we at? If you listen to the right [Beck, Hannity, Rush] the narrative that you get is that Obama is blowing it- like Jimmy Carter did with Iran in the 70’s. Carter did not support the moderate Shah and instead we got the militant Iranian Revolution that set up a religious theocracy- one of the biggest enemies of the U.S. today. Is this accurate- is Obama throwing an important ally under the bus? Well- in a way- yes- but in another ‘way’ he really has no choice. It does seem like he initially sided with Mubarak-the first statements from the Whitehouse were sympathetic to the man- they did not call him a dictator and they seemed to be satisfied with the promise that Mubarak would do better in the future- not at all what the protestors wanted. As the days went by, it became obvious that Mubarak’s days were numbered and the president changed his tune- he needs to go- now. Okay- he has been behind the curve somewhat- doing the best he can. The right wing narrative- that Obama is really in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood- that’s a little much. Has he tried to reach out to them? Some reports say yes- but the reality on the ground is these guys will play some type of future role in the govt. so it seems likely that we will have to talk with them. Okay- what about the left’s narrative- yes- they too have one. Rachel Maddow- Chris Matthews- as advocates for the president- have actually mocked the theory that the radical Muslims want a ‘Caliphate’ [Becks new word]. Maddow‘exposed’ Becks conspiracy theory as being nutty. First- we do need to remember, just because someone is paranoid- that doesn’t mean people are not really out to get you! I reject Becks narrative- but for any news person to not see the real danger in the radical Muslim groups- that they very much are positioningthemselves to take advantage of the instability- then you are simply being ignorant of the real world. While I think the protests were probably not instigated by the radicals, yet there is no doubt that they would love to pull off a Caliphate- if they thought they could get away with it. In the end of the day it does look like Mubarak’s days are over- whether he hangs on until September or not- he is finished. Who will replace him? We don’t know- Mubarak and his new V.P. are speaking some truth when they say to the West ‘look- even if we wanted to transition right now- we can’t do it in a day’! They have warned Obama that to just walk away [like the president of Tunisia did the other day] would open the door to a radical revolution. I think there is some truth to this. Whoever takes over down the road- it is obvious that they will not be an ally like we had in the past 30 years. The majority of the Arab world will not support a strong support of the West and Israel- those days are over. The fear is this thing might domino- not only in the unstable African countries [Libya] but that it might grow to the PersianGulfstates. SaudiArabia, Bahrain, countries that were deemed stable because of their economies and wealth, these are now possible candidates for a revolt/revolution. It is possible that Yemen will fall- and Al Qaeda has a very strong presence in Yemen [remember the underwear bomber? He was trained in Yemen] if that happens- we will have another Afghanistan on our hands [when the Taliban ran the country]. So overall we don’t have a lot of say in the matter- if Mubarak seems to be on his way out- Obama can’t support him- because the new govt. would be our enemy from day one. To link the entire thing to some secret political motivation [going all the way back to Frances Pivin!] is loony, but to think that there is no real danger of an organized radical takeover in the region [call it Caliphate or not] is being naïve’ to say the least. As Christians we should be on the side of justice and equality and freedom- for everyone- yes even Muslims. We should reject ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE to achieve these goals- and we should not ascribe hidden motives to our president- it’s legitimate to ask whether or not he’s doing the right thing- but to link his decisions to a past affinity to Islam- that’s going a bit far.
 THE NARRATIVE- These last few days we have all been given a lesson in Narrative- that is we have been shaped by ‘the story’ that people tell. If you view a certain event thru a conservative lens- then you will see things in the story that confirm what you already believe- the same with a liberal bias. These past few weeks I have been reading the book of Proverbs- just a few hours ago I read the verse ‘labor not to be rich, cease from your own wisdom’ then it referenced the verse I quoted the other day in 1st Timothy chapter 6 ‘those that desire to be rich have fallen into a trap and have swerved from the true faith’. Now- I haven’t spoken on this topic for years- but whenever I bring it up- it usually seems to disturb the narrative [story line] of the contemporary evangelical church. Many well meaningbelievers have been given a story line that says ‘the old traditional churches have told us money was not good- that God loves the poor- but the bible teaches otherwise’ now- are there verses that do speak about God blessing people financially? Sure. But the other side of the coin [like the verses I just quoted] these are not ‘old church traditions’ these are also part of the biblical narrative- the whole story we find in the bible. So we are often given- or drawn to- the story line we like the most- and then we look for proof that our story is the only right one. Last night [actually the repeat of the 1 a.m. show] I saw Beck interview a moderate American Muslim- he is the president of some Muslim group who have vocally rejected militant extremism. Now- Beck introduced him in a well meaning way- as a friend he met around 5 years ago. But in his introduction he said something like ‘I have been looking for a Muslim who is willing to tell the truth- to reject radicalism- and I finally found one’. In Becks mind- moderate Muslims don’t seem to exist- except this lucky one he found. Yet the man shared how his organization is made up of the majority of Muslims who in fact reject radicalism- he was Becks friend- but his reality did not fit Becks story line. As time was running short- Beck just really wanted the man to admit ‘yes- we Muslims are all basically dangerous- and I’m the only brand that managed to get plucked out of the fire’ their story lines contradicted each other. I have a confession to make- a few years ago when working at the fire dept., yes, I used to pick up the N.Y. Times and read it along with our Texas papers. Now- these past few weeks I have been picking it up every so often. I actually read the whole paper- just about every article- you have to be a junkie to read the entire times [very long articles]. Why do I do this? Because even though the Times is at times biased [let’s see- McCain runs for president- a few days before the primary vote- the Times runs a front page, top of the fold article about a rumor that he was ‘too friendly’ with a female staff person. John Edwards- known by the insiders to have actually fathered a child out of wed lock, how did the Times originally treat it? Nothing- you know- it’s the man’s personal life- got ya] yet I do find the articles real thorough, and you get to hear both sides of the narrative- something that you very rarely get from television media [especially cable]. So it’s important for all of us to try as hard as possible to be exposed to the different sides of the story. Now- Egypt. Some have said ‘do you really think that the Egyptians just woke up one day and wanted Democracy’ this narrative says it’s the radical Muslims behind the uprising. At the same time- many Egyptiansthemselves will say ‘you are disrespecting us- when other countries citizens rise up [Iran] you cheer for their independence- yet you treat us with disdain’. These protesters are saying we are getting the story wrong. And in the Arab world- yes- you have all sides realizing these things. So the pro Mubarak group- while being against militant Islam- at the same time realizes that if the world thinks the protests are being fanned by the militant Muslims- then Mubarak knows the world will turn against the protests and support him. So they attempt to tell ‘that story’. After reading all ‘the stories’ it seems to me that the initial protests were indeed the younger generation feeling like they had no real future- they seem to have really ‘woken up one day’ [being emboldened by the Tunisian protests] and yes- wanted Democracy. This is not to say that the radical Muslim groups are not trying to use it to their advantage- but in a way these protests actually work against ‘the narrative’ of the militant groups. How? The ‘story’ that the radicals try to tell is ‘the only way we can be free from these autocratic, western loving- Israel peacemaking leaders is thru violent revolution’ if the Arab street believespeacefulprotests can do it- then they not only challenged Mubarak’s rule- but also the narrative of the violent radicals- see? So as we view these events from afar- be sure you’re not only being shaped by one sides view- even if the side you listen to seems sincere- heck- I think most of what Beck says he believes! But at the same time there is good journalism out there [I do think the Times still has tremendously valuable info. Despite the bias] try and listen to the more respectable news sources- for many years I did not subscribe to cable- I watched the networks and P.B.S.- yes- the news hour is an excellent source for news. And at the end of the day realize that there might be some truth to both sides of the argument- it is rare to find the whole truth resting with only one side.
 MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE? – Okay- let’s try and go with the narrative thing a bit more. What do I think the ‘real story’ is right now? I mentioned yesterday that I have been reading the N.Y. Times these past few weeks- in order to get a more in depth ‘feel’ for the things going on in the world today. Sure enough- an article I read in the morning- on a man named Frank Wisner- helped me put together a few more pieces of the geopolitical puzzle. The article described Wisner as the premier U.S. representative on the stage right now- our ‘go to’ man for Egypt. He is sort of an undercover Richard Holbrooke- the popular ambassador who died a few months back. Wisner is a guy with just as much [or more] experience as Holbrooke- it’s just he isn’t a flashy type guy- sort of like comparing the old mafia bosses with John Gotti, you know- the quiet type versus the celebrity hound. So in the article Wisner goes to Egypt- he is a personal friend of Mubarak- and he leaves quickly. His abrupt trip to Egypt raised some questions- sort of like Mubarak might be saying ‘what is wrong with your American president- he is going to ruin the Middle East’ [I’m guessing]. Wisner is questioned by the press on why he left so soon- and he gives some politically correct answer. Then sure enough last night I saw a bunch of reports- and Wisner himself- coming out and saying how he thinks Mubarak should not step down immediately- like the president is asking- and that Mubarak should stay in power until a safe transition can occur. Then other voices came out and said the same thing- The president of Israel [ Shimon Peres] gave a speech in which he praised Mubarak as a man of peace who was willing to stand for peace and whose rule saved the lives of many people. The feel I got was that behind the scenes- the smart players do indeed think Obama has blown this thing. How? Mubarak and other Egyptian leaders have said ‘what’s wrong with you- how can you be calling for our overthrow so quickly- in Iran- a major enemy of the U.S.- a real nuclear threat to world peace- just a few months back you had a popular uprising in the streets- and chose not to side with democracy- why now?’. We must understand that many serious minded people are asking this question. Now- being I have read a lot about this story in the past few weeks- one of the things I read was a story about the book ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ it’s a conspiracy type book that traces Obama’s roots and says he was prepped his whole life to one day become the U.S. president- and because of his leanings towards Islam- he will use his power to realign the nations and assist them in becoming Islamist states. Now- I do not believe this at all- yet the book is out there. Why mention this? These books were indeed donated to Mubarak and his cabinet- they were given 20 of these books by the author- who claims he did discuss this theory with a top Egyptian diplomat. If this is true- it would not be hard for Mubarak- a man who has served Egypt for 60 years [30 in the military- 30 as president] who has sent his family out of the country for their safety- who has been told by the U.S.presdient ‘leave now’ I mean the man is 82 years old- he never saw this coming- he actually has said he wants to step down- but heck- I would assume he doesn’t want to flee and live the rest of his life in some other country. The man might very well intend on stepping down- but if he is pushed out like this- his life is over. Now-am I sympathizing with the man- no. Realistically when you put a proud person like this in a dilemma- he might just try and hang on and ‘get’ you in the end. So the smart politicos [Wisner] are trying to leave the man some dignity- actually publicly disagreeing with the White House- in public- because they see the dire situation of the whole thing. It is very, very rare to see such a public split between different voices who are representing the president. The White House had to immediately put out a statement disassociating themselves from Wisner- saying it was his personal view. All this tells me that there are indeed some major problems going on right now- major fears the president has about this thing spiraling out of control. If- in even a small way- world leaders [Mubarak- Peres, etc.] are buying into the Manchurian Candidate ‘narrative’ then we have huge problems. Don’t think it impossible for these leaders to possibly think this. Last year- some diplomat [It might have been an Egyptian? I read the story a while back] swore to the media that he met with Obama in 2007, before he was running for Pres., and that Obama assured him he too was a Muslim and wanted to work for the peace of all people. Of course the story made headlines when Obama became president. The man never retracted the story. Then you did have the famous interview by George Stephanopoulos-a Clinton Democrat- where Obama did say ‘my Muslim faith’ if you watch it on UTUBE- it does not seem to be a slip of the tongue- it seems like he might have been used to embracing his past [Time in Indonesia as a boy- attended school with Muslims- his dad was a proud Muslim- etc.] while at the same time embracing his present Christian beliefs. Sort of like a person who is open to all types of cultures and religions- but who realized he couldn’t use that line if he were to run for president. I mean I can’t think of a more ‘acceptable’ explanation than this. These types of things [telling the diplomat he was indeed ‘part Muslim’ and seeming to embrace it during the interview] can’t simply be slips of the tongue. Now- do I think the president is Muslim? No. Do I think he might have played to that background in the past- in sort of a multi cultural way? Probably. But when you take all these dots- put them together in a book- then feed them to a king/president- who indeed is confused- family on the run for their lives- being told ‘step down now’ while Iran got a free pass [a real Muslim radical theocracy] in this environment was it possible for Mubarak to have told Wisner ‘your president is trying to destroy Egypt and Israel- we have read about all his past connections’ of course it’s possible for them to accept the narrative- and for Wisner to possibly have seen the real fear in these leaders faces- that would explain why he would publicly come out on TV and back Mubarak- against his own president. Now- I am not a ‘birther’ nor do I hold to the Manchurian Candidate conspiracy- I think Obama was sidelined with this whole crisis- did his best [yes- at times amateurish-I think Susan Rice and others lack real world experience] and he began commenting on the side of Mubarak- got blindsided- he did give a speech last year in Egypt-publicly telling the Egyptian people that he would be on their side in their future struggle for Democracy- and he probably got some advice saying ‘look- you told them you would be on their side- don’t make the same mistake you did in not supporting the Iranian protestors- this time side with freedom’ and he then makes the 180 degree turn- and he indeed caught Mubarak off guard-Mubarak was an ally for 30 years- Iran an enemy. Yet he sees it as he is the one getting thrown under the bus- not the radical Muslim country. Now- is it possible for Mubarak to believe the Manchurian narrative from his view? Of course! Okay-mistakes have been made- It’s probably best to go for a slow transition than a fast one- you need some time for other opposition parties to organize- right now you only haveMubarak’s party and the Muslim Brotherhood- not too many choices. And if we think it’s in our best interest- and Egypt’s- to give Mubarak a chance to save face- to give him some credit for his willingness to be our ally for 30 years- then let’s be smart about this- I see how the man might really be thinking that Beck was right all along! I personally don’t accept the theory- but when you have an 82 year old man- on the verge of him and his family possibly being killed or fleeing to some foreign country- yes, with stress like that- Beck just might be what the doctor called for.
 HAIL TO THE CHIEF- OUR KENYAN BORN PRESIDENT? [and other fables]. Okay- before you liberals curse me out and do a quick delete hear me out. I did mention the other day that if you want people to read your posts youneed to catch their interest with a ‘short- pithy comment’ [OReilly]. In the last post I mentioned how some people do indeed think/believe the president is a closet Muslim. A few weeks ago the N.Y. Times ran a story- showing how a very high percentage of people do think he is Muslim [I think it was close to 20 %] and in the last post I mentioned why these beliefs are so prevalent; to just dismiss all these people as right wing Tea Party nut cases is a major mistake in my view. Now- out of all the Presidents of the past- President Obama is the only one who spent time living in the most populous Muslim country in the world [Indonesia] he did attend schools with other Muslim boys- his father also felt strongly enough about his cultural heritage that they did give the president a ‘Muslim’ sounding name [as opposed to Barry- the name he used in school]. And of course there have been times, caught on tape, where the president said he was indeed Muslim [my Muslim faith]. Okay- taking all these things into consideration- it’s not out of the realm of possibility to think he is indeed Muslim. Like I said yesterday- I personally don’t hold to this idea- but for others to embrace it is not a ‘wacko’ belief. Second- I do find it kinda funny to see all the liberals voice such outrage at the idea- they do sound like Seinfeld on the episode where they thought Jerry was gay- all through the show he says ‘I’m not gay’ and of course has to add ‘not that there’s anything wrong with it’.I do think the defenders are protesting a little too much- after all the left [MSNBC crowd] are the ones always accusing the right [FOX CROWD] of Islamaphobia! Right now there are reasonable moderate voices on both sides of the political spectrum- if you listen carefully to the president- he is very much a moderate voice- he sees both sides and does his best to make the more liberal argument- in a very intelligent way. You also have people like George Will, Kathleen Parker [Spitzer’s sidekick on their new CNN show] and others who make an intelligent case for conservative principles [Paul Ryan too]. These voices articulate their case well- share their views- and at the end of the day are able to sit down across the table [or pub- Boehner] and spend some time fellowshipping with the other side [a good example would be Orin Hatch and Ted Kennedy- a right/left wing friendship that was able to thrive even though they held sincerely to their beliefs]. This is what we need more of- both in politics and- yes- religion. As someone who has spent many years engaging the various religious beliefs- the different stands that Christian churches hold to- it is very sad to see the demonization of one church by the other. Often times we view the ‘opposing team’ in the worst possible light- and then after you demonize them- it is next to impossible to sit down later and try to understand one another- because everyone on your team already believes they are the enemy- and if your caught rooting for the opposing team- then you too become ‘one of them’. So we seem to have lost the art of respectful dialogue- yes we can ‘cut each other down’ in a friendly way- kid in fun- but to actually view the other side as the enemy- for real- that’s dangerous. I heard 2 statements yesterday about the president- that I liked. They came from staunch Republicans- John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They were both asked about how they felt the president was handling the revolt in Egypt- they said they felt he was doing his best and they supported him. It seemed like they knew something that the average citizen might not- that the president is really trying to do his best- and the narrative that is trying to link him to an undercover Muslim plot to take over the Middle east- well that narrative might be affecting the president a little more than we realize. Now- what’s the ‘real story’ with the president’sbirth certificate? Let me give you my best shot. I have watched this debate for a long time- I’m obviously a watcher of both the left and the right [by the way- I think The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a good show- he does comedy/news- but he is fair and does get the story right most of the time]. During the campaign some people made an issue out of the fact that the Obama team never released his original birth certificate- was he secretly born in Kenya they asked. Of course this idea was rejected out of hand at first- but as time went on it became a story- a ‘narrative’ that fit certainconspiratorial views. As I listened to the staunch defenders of the president [Matthews] defend the president time after time- interviewing right wingers [Gordon Liddy- you know- the Nixon guy who bit off the rat head- hey- you can’t get more stanch then that!] Matthews would go into his normal rage ‘how dare you even think anything like that!’ I found it interesting to see the ‘birthers’ respond fairly reasonably. The defenders of the President would often point out ‘the fact’ that the HawaiianCertificate of Birth [the record Obama has put out] was the official original certificate- I even saw a video of a young school child saying how you can find the presidents birth certificate on line [MSNBC showed the clip- saying ‘look- even this young girl is brighter than the Tea Party]. So after hearing Matthews go on- week after week- month after month- I mean he reported many times that the Certificate of Birth was the actual birth certificate- he explained it very thoroughly- that people are confused because that is Hawaii’s birth certificate- you don’t get a ‘normal one’ like we do on the mainland. I mean he described his belief well. The problem- yes, once again- he was just flat wrong. How do I know- because after the recent elections Hawaii got a newDemocratic governor- he grew up with Obama’s parents- went to school with them. As soon as he got in office he made headlines by publicly stating that he was tired of the whole birther conspiracy- he was going to put the rumor to rest once and for all. So he says he personally will override any privacy rules and release the document by Divine [okay- governmental] decree! So Matthews jumps on the bandwagon- does a show where he gets these 2 Democrats to agree with him- yes- lets finally release the real thing. Matthews holds up a redacted copy of someone’s real Hawaiian birth certificate [you know- the thing he swore never existed- the thing he called the birthers idiots over- because they insisted that what Obama showed us was not the real thing] so Matthews holds a real Hawaiian birth certificate up and compares it to the thing Obama has released- the Certificate of Live birth- and Matthews goes on to explain that these 2 things are indeed very different- the Certificate thing- the thing the birthers said was not the real McCoy all along- Matthews now agrees with them- guess he finally googled ‘is the certificate of birth the real thing’- and got the same answer the right wingers were giving him. So Matthews joins the liberal chorus of ‘now it’s time to release the real thing-let’s put this thing to bed once and for all’. How did the story end? Well the other day the governor put out a very quiet announcement- he said ‘I will not seek to reveal the birth certificate- it wouldviolate the privacy laws’ and that’s that. Matthews made a small mention about people who still demand the ‘paper hard copy’ he said it in a way where you could tell he too has dropped the matter. What happened? Again- if you’re a birther- this would play into your worst case scenario ‘see- I knew it’ type thing. But what happened? After all the years of watching this debate- I think there are 2 possibilities; 1- it is very possible that the birth certificate might record the presidents religion as Muslim- his father was a proud Muslim [not that there’s anything wrong with it!] and they were thinking ‘culturally’ at the time of his birth [they named him Barak Hussein] so this is a possibility- the other thing is Hawaii might have actually lost the real thing- I mean birth certificates do accidently get destroyed- fires happen- there are many cases where the original does not existany more. So- I’m sure someone ‘in the know’ finally contacted Matthews and said ‘here’s the scoop’ and he dropped it. Why not just report the real story? If the ‘religion section’ says Muslim [I don’t know if there is a section for religion] sure- you could explain the fact that parents don’t choose their kids religion- you could explain the fact that Obama joined a Christian church in Chicago- but you would never be able to stop the critics from using it as major attack tool. So yes- both sides might have gotten it wrong [I mean Matthews ridiculed his guests over and over again- he described people as idiots because they insisted the certificate we were all seeing on line was the actual original- he was just flat wrong]. But when we view the other side with disdain- whether that side be right or left- then it’s hard for us to see that yes- they might have been right [about one part of the story]while being wrong about another part. I think there are good points to be made by both conservatives and liberals- but if I hate you- I will never hear your side.
 NO TEMPLE IN IT- Let me try and communicate a few simple truths that hopefully will stick with people- you know- stuff you hear and it makes you think differently from here on out. I have been reading the book of Proverbs these last few weeks and the proverbs teach us that wisdom allows you to communicate great truths in short snippets. One of the proverbs actually says this. If you read the gospels you’ll see Jesus using simple short stories [Parables] to teach great truths. Okay- down the road I plan on teaching the book of Revelation- it’sreally a great book- if your able to ‘get thru’ the dragon heads and 666and all the other images that seem to preoccupy the current popular prophecy books that are on the market today. Don’t get me wrong- the dragon heads and all that stuff do mean something- but not what we usually read from the Lahaye books. One of the images I read the other day [and many times over the years] is the picture of the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven- John says ‘this city’ has No Temple in it. Now- in the New Testament- many times- the imagery of the city is speaking about the church- the corporate people of God. We also see a major theme of the New Testament being the idea that thru Christ- our final Passover sacrifice- the old system of sacrifice and ‘temple’ have passed away [Hebrews]. I mean these themes are major theological themes in the bible- that Jesus ‘suffered outside the city gate’ [Hebrews saysthe place where he died was outside the city] and that this means that we are all accepted by God thru Jesus- not because of our religious affiliation with ‘law and temple’ [in the city gate] but because we approach God on the basis of the Cross of Jesus- outside the gate- the place where there is ‘no temple’. See? So- this major theme of the New Testament [the actual term we use- New Testament- is speaking about this truth] can be summed up in a short prophetic glimpse [remember- wisdom lets you say much in short snippets] by saying ‘I John, saw the holy city- the New Jerusalem [the church] descending down from God and this city had NO TEMPLE IN IT’ See? John is not really talking about the aesthetics of heaven, in so much as he is giving us this great propheticspiritual reality ‘I see John- this image of NO TEMPLE simply means the New Covenant will be established on the one sacrifice of Christ and not on the temple system of continual animalsacrifices’. Yes- I think John [the apostle] would be glad if we saw his Revelation thru this lens- a paradigm that exalts the person and work of Christ- instead of a bunch of dragon heads.
 DON’T LOOK IN THE BOX!- Let me try and do 2 things today; a short ‘memorable’ truth that is in keeping with yesterdays spirit- and the current events in the Middle East [never got to this part-willdo it tomorrow]
First- How many of you remember the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies- go ahead- raise your hand. Yes- those of you reading this- actually raise your hand if you’ve seen the movie- believe me there is a purpose tothis. Okay- did you do it? Wow- see how easy it is to engage in stuff when no one’s looking? Well yes, in the bible there is a famous story about ‘not looking’- it has to do with the Indiana Jones movie. First [or 2nd?] the Ark in the movie comes from a real story in the bible about a box [Ark]. Sometimes people confuse the Ark of Noah with this Ark- I heard Keith Olberman [one of my favorite liberals- now with Al Gore’s channel, Current TV] mocking someone- and in his mocking he talked about all the animals that might fit into the ark- the problem was the person he was mocking was talking about this Ark [small box] not Noah’s! Okay- in the book of Exodus we read the famous story of Moses delivering the children of Israel out of bondage [okay- what country was it again? O that’s right- Egypt- wonder of this is significant today? A stubborn dictatorial leader- ruling Egypt- who can’t seem to read the writing on the wall- guess not]and as they flee Egypt they do the Red Sea crossing and they wind up spending 40 years wandering in the wilderness because of their unbelief [too much to explain right now]. So- during their journey they get the 10 commandments and God sets up a tent [tabernacle] system that consists of this small little building surrounded by a fence and in this little room/building there is this box [Ark] that holds the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments. This box is covered with gold- has 2 angel statues on each side of the lid and the lid covering the box is called ‘the mercy seat’. Now- this ‘seat/lid’ is actually the altar that the high priest puts the sacrificial animal blood on once a year [Day of Atonement] to cover the sins of the people. In a nutshell- the lid on the box allowed a holy God [represented by the 10 commandments- his character revealed in this symbolic way] to dwell with sinful man- because the lid ‘atoned/covered’ the sins of the people- allowing God [in the box] to dwell with the people. Got it? That’s the Ark of the Covenant- the box in the Harrison Ford movies. Now- the movies tell the story about Indiana trying to find this ancient artifact- because it is said to have this awesome nuclear like power. Is this true? No. The idea comes from the bible [1st Samuel chapter 6] one time the box was taken captive in one of the battles- during its return to Israel [another long story] it winds up in this area where the people look in the box and the bible says 70,ooo people died [some bible versions say 70 people]. Wow- why did this happen? The lid covered the sins of men- once you take a peek- lift the lid- you have removed the only covering that man has for his sin- Gods holy character [the tablets] meets manssinful one- obliteration. That’s the story- not some secret nuclear device. In the New Testament book of Hebrews [chapter 9] the same word used to describe the lid [mercy seat] is mentionedagain in connection with the Cross of Christ. In the book of Romans [chapter 3] Jesus is said to be ‘the propitiation for our sins’ this is the same word- from the Hebrew language to the Greek [Old Testament story was written in Hebrew- New Testament in Greek] for ‘Mercy Seat’ so what’s the story? The lid on the box represents the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for all men- it’s because of Jesus that God can once again dwell [the same word for Tabernacle- the whole tent system I just described] with men. The language used to speak about the Incarnation [God becoming man in Jesus] speaks about God dwelling [tabernacling] with men- in a very real way the box also represents the humanity/Deity of Jesus- it was made out of wood [a type of flesh] yet covered with gold [a type of divinity]. So Jesus is the covering [actually for you theologians the New testament sacrifice of Jesus does more than cover- it removes- but this post is supposed to be short!] and if you try and approach God without the ‘lid on’ you get creamed- got it? Now you can tell your kids the real story behind the box- and O yeah- someone let Keith in on the secret! P.S. for all of you who raised your hands- please send me an email- you’re the type we want for mailing lists! J
 DAY OF RAGE IN EGYPT- Okay- I have been holding this story back for 2 weeks- it’s been reported primarily thru the financial shows [cnbc, Bloomberg] The only cable news guy that I saw cover it was Dylan Rattigan [MSNBC]. The story is that this administration made real decisions that have added to the very real discontent and rage that we are presently seeing in the world. I was waiting to see how long it would take before Rush, Beck or Hannity would catch on- as far asthis morning they have not. A few months back this administration sat back as the Federal Reserve [Yes- I know there supposed to be independent] printed 600 billion dollars of new money. We were in a dispute with China’s fiscal policy- they are keeping their Yen low, artificially, and we wanted them to stop manipulating their currency. Why? When one country [a major trade partner] does this- that makes their goods cheap and ours more expensive. We already have a huge trade imbalance with China, and this makes it worse. So China ignored our pleas [a common response from more nations as the days go by] and Ben Bernanke- the Fed. Chairman announced we would print 600 billion dollars- just make more money! Now- many economists warned that if you do this- you will be creating lots of ‘fake cash’ and this money will flow into commodities- in essence this policy can cause the food prices to increase dramatically on the world market- creating an atmosphere of unrest through the world. Just yesterday I read in the business section how food prices have soared on the global market. Some of it has to do with the clean energy policies of this administration [yes- again]. Over these last few years many environmentalists have pushed Ethanol [corn for fuel]. Al Gore has since come out and publicly admitted that they [the environmentalists] have made a major mistake in doing this. Why? We have found out that in the production process of the fuel- it still creates a huge amount of pollution- factors we didn’t know at first. Second- this new demand for corn has drastically raised the price of corn on the world market- corn is one of the major factors for food prices- not just because we eat it- but it is a major source of feed for Cows, Chickens, etc. in essence this policy [introducing corn as fuel into the world markets] has drastically increased world food prices- which is one of the major reasons for the protests going on both in Egypt and the world- yes many countries have stated that they are actually starving over this- they make a couple of dollars a day, their price to eat has gone up drastically- and many protestors have taken to the streets because of this. Ben Bernanke was asked about this point blank by a reporter- he denied the logic. This story is very real- it is not the conspiracy theories that we are hearing in the conservative media- it is a very real prediction that was made by moderate financial gurus- they said these policies would cause real inflation that could create instability in the world- they were indeed correct. The U.S. supply of corn is at its lowest in 15 years, the projected orders for corn this year have risen 8 %- to 13 billion bushels. We are estimated to have a reserve of 675 million bushels by august [when the harvest begins for corn] that’s about 5 % of all the corn that will be consumed- the lowest levels since 1996. Corn prices have doubled in the last 6 months- from $3.50 a bushel to $7.00. We have made global decisions, based on certain ideological views- that have indeed caused people to die- for real. Now- the Egypt crisis. I was shocked to hear Mubarak’s speech yesterday- I thought he was stepping down [as did Obama] and instead he shoved it in their faces. The Egyptianleadership has told us, in public, to bud out of their country. The Saudis have told Egypt they will replace the billion dollars of annual foreign aid if the U.S. threatens to stop the aid. Mubarak and Suleiman have told the U.S. news [cable] coverage to bud out. And right after the speech-Chris Matthews from MSNBC says on the air ‘I guess he’s telling the protestors they are going to have to kill him’ this man needs to be pulled off the air- immediately- before he starts world war 3[no joke].Obviously we have had lots of missteps, president Obama has very much mishandled things-you do not send Robert Gibbs out to the media to say ‘he needed to go- yesterday’ this nation [as well as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq- yes, why are the media not covering the actual street protestors in Iraq- protesting the guys we installed!] these nations are going to do all that they can to maintain power- the worst one of all- Iran- was the only one that got a free pass when their citizens protested in the streets! Yes- of course we have blown it- lots. Having said all this- we as a nation need to back the democratic process for all these people. They have been abused by tyrants- killed- limbs chopped off- secret govt. police coming to your door at midnight- taking you away never to be seen again- we need to side with the people- these protests are not about radical Islam- they are people starving- living in oppression- desiring to be free- it’s a travesty to the highest degree that we [both Democratic and Republican presidents] have been in bed with these tyrants for all these years- the chickens are coming home to roost- and it’s time for some national repentance.
 YOU SAY YOU WANT A REVOLUTION? YOU GOTIT. Okay- history was made yesterday- on the exact anniversary of the Iranian revolution [that didn’t work out so well]. First- I’m glad the people in the square prevailed- I’m on their side and stand in solidarity with them. There are already a few other Facebook pages popping up- DAYS OF RAGE for other countries who are seeking to capitalize on the mood of revolution in the air- it looks like we might really be living in historic times. These events could very well be the defining moment of this century- that which historians will look back on and see as momentous- a defining time. Are there dangers? Yes. There are always dangers when Revolution happens- honest [and dishonest] people on both sides- we [the U.S.] are children of Revolution- if any nation should support these revolts- it should be us! We had dissenters during our season of revolt- somepreachers/Christians sided with England- they felt like it was disobeying the bible to ‘Revolt’- there are bible verses that say ‘obey your earthly rulers- listen to the kings and governors- don’t rebel’. Now- that sure does sound problematic if you’re a believer on the revolting side. The apostle Paul wrote this, not under Western Style Democracy- but under Imperial Roman Rule! [ in his letter to the church at ROME!] So how do we join the spirit of freedom and popular revolution with this? Jesus obviously rejected violent revolt [those who live by the sword will die by it] yet he was not against challenging the authorities of the day- non violently standing up to corrupt leaders- and yes- instituting a new revolutionary kingdom- one that would overthrow the ‘kingdoms of this world’[ The Kingdom of God]. I mean you can’t escape the imagery of revolt and kingdom and righteous dominion [rule] this is the heart and soul of the Kingdom of God. Problem? Well yes- at times [like in our day] many Christians misunderstand the purpose of the Kingdom of God- they [in my view] place too much emphasis on the geographical area of the Holy Land- they develop scenarios that pit Arab/Muslim nations against Israel- and they read the very real Old Testament prophecies thru a lens that says ‘this is God’s word- this ethnic group [Jewish] should posses this area- and this other ethnic group [Palestinian] should get out’. I think when we see the purpose of God and his kingdom thru this lens- we err. But the reality is the bible and the message of Jesus are one of true revolution- peaceful- but revolution nonetheless. The verses Paul wrote are indeed scripture- and they were real practical advice given to the fledgling church in the 1st century- Paul did not want the nascent church to get a reputation of being political rabble rousers- you had what were called Zealots at the time- Jewish political activists who advocated violent overthrow of Roman rule from the Jewish land- and Paul [and Jesus] rejected this idea. So I think if we read the basic instructions from Paul and see the context of the time- that yes- a political revolt was not what the early church needed. But what we are seeing in our day is a possible major realignment of the nations in the Arab [and Persian] world. We are seeing people who have been oppressed by religious theocracies- these people have every right to rebel- to non violently go to the streets and stand in protest to the dictators who have ruthlessly oppressed them for years- these rebels are not criminals- they are non violentprotestors who are speaking truth to power- much like what Jesus did. Now- where next? I think we need to do Iran again- I think the president [Obama] thinks this too. Yesterday as he gave a speech after the historic events in Egypt- he spoke to the leadership of Iran and told them ‘let your people also freely protest in your streets’. Now- that message is saying ‘you guys are also gonna fall’- do you really think the Iranian madman thinks ‘well- maybe if we let the people protest- that’s all the president meant’ c’mon- if we thru Mubarak ‘under the bus’ [I’m glad he’s under the bus] there isn’t a snowballs chance in Hades that The mad man from Iran will get a free pass. So yes- lets support all the days of rage that are popping up- lets be on the side of freedom from tyrants and U.S. puppets- the Arab street is smart- they know much more than we give them credit for- and yes- there will be a danger from radical Islamist elements- we should make a distinction between violent and non violent Muslim groups- but even groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that have rejected violence- we should still be aware of their goal- they do indeed advocate for religious ruleand we need to say ‘yes- we honor your principled stance against violence- yet we reject any religious theocracy- whether it be Christian, Jewish, Muslim- we want freedom and rights for all people- regardless of their religion- and we do not support your goal- even if you want to achieve it thru non violence’. Where next? IRAN.
[just a note- as I’m presently studying Marx and Freud and other thinkers- Marx himself rejected God because he felt like the religious rulers would use these types of ‘non revolt’ teachings to keep the people suppressed- Marx’s problem with God came thru this economic challenge- the masses were unwilling to revolt against economic oppression because religion was being used as a tool to keep the people under. I think in the beginning Marx meant well- saw the oppression of people and saw how rulers used religion to control people- too bad he couldn’t read this post]
 PHARAOH- KING OF EGYPT- I had an interesting experience yesterday- as I was doing the early morning prayer routine [I get up at around 3-3:30 and do about a 2 hour prayer time- I walk in my yard and cover a bunch of things- world situations, natural disasters, war areas- etc.] I got to a spot where I pray for world leaders. I start with president Obama and his wife and kids and then pray for world leaders. At one point I pray for all those in authority who are Christians- I ask the Lord to give them wisdom- help them make right decisions- I also pray for non Christian rulers- I don’t pray ‘against them’ I ask the Lord to also help them to rule justly- to not oppress their people. Then I pray for a 3rd category- let me quote it to you ‘Lord- for all those in authority who are persecuting believers- those who rule oppressive regimes- I ask that you would remove them for these positions and replace them with just leaders- and until that happens- that you would be glorified in them like you were with the rebellious leader of Egypt- Pharaoh’ the thing that surprised me was the realization that the only nation I mention every time I pray [besides the U.S.] is Egypt. The other nations get mentioned [Iraq- Israel- Palestine- etc.] but only as world events would warrant it- but Egypt is actually part of the prayer format. Now- I’m not saying that Egypt ‘fell’ because of my prayer- but it kinda did freak me out a little. Okay- in the last note we ended with Iran. In the past few days there have been uprisings in Yemen, Algeria [formally a colony of France- they too have been independent for around 30 years- yet many of these nations have not translated into Democracies], certain Persian Gulf states [Bahrain] and there are a number of nation/states that are foreseeing trouble [the more stable wealthy gulf states- United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia- are taking preventative steps to ward off any massive demonstrations- many of these countries are flatly handing out one time cash benefits as a sort of early tax return- geez- they are blatant about buying off the people.] So how are the Revolutions doing? Remember- the 1st domino to fall was the African nation of Tunisia [remember- Africa is a continent- so the nations/states in her are separate ruling governments] these past few weeks many thousands of refugees have fled Tunisia by boat and have landed on a port city in Italy. Italy is having major disruptions trying to deal with the crisis. Of course they are dealing with problems of their own- let’s see- what’s the big scandal story in Italy? Oh yeah- Berlusconi paid an underage Moroccan girl for sex. I remember watching the news a month or so ago- as the Italian leader was dealing with all his ‘girl’ scandals- he comes out and says ‘hey- it’s better than sleeping with the gays’. I guess their level of politicalcorrectness is a little different than ours. And for Egypt it’s too soon to tell how well the Revolution will end up. Now- at the same time we had the Taliban attack the police in Afghanistan- killing 18 people. There was one protestor killed in Iran- and the news media showed full coverage of the body- top of the world news- yet a few weeks ago while reading the paper- I read a story of 51 people killed by a suicide bomber right outside of Baghdad [Iraq], the next day I read the story again- the headlines were the same- the same amount of people killed- I thought they accidently ran the same story twice- as I read the article it wasn’t the same story, it was indeed the 3rd batch of more than 50 people killed in suicide bombings in 3 days. They said how in the last few weeks many hundreds were killed in these attacks- many more hundreds injured- yet not one top news media story- I found this story hidden on the back pages of the paper in a very obscure spot. Why? Is it because the media ran with the recent celebration of the so called end to our war in Iraq? I remember how MSNBC [yes- Matthews again] spent 3 days trying to make it sound like the end of WW2 – nobody bought it. So the media does pick and choose what they will run with. I’m glad they are covering the protestors- and I’m glad they covered the 1 person killed in Iran [even though theyweren’t even sure who killed him] but we need to be very aware of the role the media plays- for them to have ignored 2-300 hundred suicide deaths in Iraq- because they want to show us a particular picture [war is over- let’s celebrate] and to have showed 1death as top major news in Iran- well you get the picture [I hope!] Yes- it’s too soon to tell how the Revolutions will turn out- Tunisia is a mess, and Egypt has a long road ahead of them- and yes- Berlusconi has his problems too. Lets pray for the nations, mention them by name- who knows- maybe one day you will wake up and say ‘geez- I’ve been praying for the removal of corrupt Pharaohs in Egypt for years- and sure enough he ‘got removed’.
NOTE- When the media tried to ‘spin’ the end of the war in Iraq- they showed their obvious bias in the way they reported the story under one president [Obama] versus the other [Bush]. What happened in Iraq was we left 50 thousand ‘non combat’ troops in the country [who by every account- even a local boy who is serving their right now wrote in our editorial- have said our guys are still engaging in combat on a regular basis]- we are building the world’s biggest ‘embassy’ in the country [it has been described as a giant permanent military base] and the uptick in attacks from the enemy have gone up- their country just installed one of the most outspoken enemies of the U.S. in their official govt. and like I said we just had hundreds of innocent people blown apart by suicide bombers in just a few days. During the Bush years- a single death with a burned out vehicle made national headlines- top story for days- showing all the various positions of the vehicles that were blown up- the Democrats regularly questioned the competence of the president- publicly stating that the wars were lost [Harry Reid] and accusing the president of willfully lying- in public- and being responsible- personally- for the deaths of both Iraqi innocents and American boys and girls- yes- senator Kerry went around the country- publicly saying ‘Bush lied- your kids died’. Now, none of this was seen as ‘raising the level of discourse too high’ the media did not freak out about any of this- a movie even came out called ‘the assassination of George W Bush’ the media did not roundly condemn this, not in the same way they spent weeks covering the ‘target’ story from Sarah Palin’s political sight. Can you imagine them not covering the story of a right winger who produced a movie called ‘the assassination of Barak Obama? Nor were the presidents enemies blamed for lowering the discourse and allowing stuff like this to happen.When a certain Democrat was asked ‘do you think it’s wrong that you described the president as an idiot in public’ he said ‘he is one’. The point being this same media- when Joe Wilson said ‘you lie’ some actually said this statement was so dangerous that it put the president’s life at risk [because it lowered the bar of respect]. Now- even though I agree with the need to stop using all this type of language- the point I’m making is the media has an agenda- even if it’s not a ‘secret’ underground thing [like Beck thinks]- never the less they report more favorably about a situation if they like the president- they report more negatively if they don’t. For the media to have reported the ‘end of the war’ in Iraq was a joke- and to have not even covered the hundreds who were just killed- while making 1 death in Iran the top news story- this too is a joke.
 REVOLUTION- NOT ANARCHY! As of last night many streets in the Arab world are experiencing protests- Iran has launched 2 battleships to head towards Syria [right off the coast of Israel] and there are reports of oil prices spiking because of the unrest. These last few weeks I have been reading thru some chapters in Exodus- the book that records the historic liberation of Gods people from Egypt. Those of you who are bible readers will remember that the initial cause for revolt was actually an economic injustice; the children of Israel were under the oppressive regime of Pharaoh and they were grumbling about the poor economic conditions- the leader heard their ‘protests’ and he oppressed them more! He required them to produce more bricks and mortar [for the building of his own wealth] and yet they were to do this from the same amount of natural resources they had all along. In many of these states where the protestors have taken to the streets- they survive on 2 dollars a day- or less. These same people are now required to survive off of the same measly amount- even as the cost of food soars- many of them are indeed going hungry- for real. In the biblical story God sends them Moses [a type of Christ] and as you know Moses confronts unjust authority and the people revolt. Now- one of the key ingredients to a successful ‘revolt’ is a just constitution! God gives them the 10 commandments [rules on treating each other justly- and loving God] at the start of their journey- they will eventually conquer the Promised Land and grow as a society- yet the rules of the game were laid out early in the revolt. What do I think is happening right now? I believe our people [the president and U.S. govt.] are seeing these revolts as the major danger in the world right now- the level of world instability has not been like this in many years- the news media have tried to ‘manipulate’ the environment. After CNN and a few others chose to hone the cameras in on the thousands of protestors in Egypt’s square- yet they initially would not show/report the thousands who were revolting in Iraq. Why? They obviously want to push the narrative of ‘change’ in one place- while pushing the narrative of ‘Obama ended the war and all is well’ in another. The reality is there are major dangers taking place in the world right now- do I think Iran wants to invade Israel? To be honest- yes. What? All these leaders are shaking in their boots- from ‘the shores of Tripoli’ [Quadaffi] to the ‘kings’ of Bahrain. I assure you- if the protestors topple the Iranian leaders- it will not be a ‘peaceful’ exodus to some vacation spot [like Mubarak did] it will be Saddam Husseinall over again [strung up in the streets- or on TV]. Now- do you think the Iranian madman would attack Israel as a last ditch effort to save his skin? You bet ya! [Okay- too much Palin]. Remember- before all the recent developments- there were some major movements in the Middle East that spelled danger for Israel. For years they faced opposition on their northern border from Lebanon. For many years Hezbollah was a political force in the area- for the first time ever they recently elected someone from Hezbollah to high office- deposing the former leader. In the south and on the West bank there was also lots of turmoil right before these revolts took place. The leader of the Palestinians came under tremendous pressure because the Wikileaks ‘leaks’ revealed that Abbas [Palestinian leader] agreed with Israel to kill some Hamas leaders [Hamas is the radical pro Palestinian group- branded as terrorists by Israel and the U.S.] When the leaks got out there was rage in the streets- the chief negotiator [SaebErakat] had to step down. So all these events were seen as major threats to peace in the region- add to that the fall of Egypt- and the current uprisings in the other Arab/Persian states- yes indeed- we have not seen a time like this since our world wars [yes that’s strong- I do believe this to be true]. Okay- should we be afraid? No. How should we view the young people who are the primary demonstrators on the streets? I think it would be a mistake for the older generation [especially in the West] to view them all as potential terrorists- remember- Iran wouldn’t be sending her ships to Syria unless they too felt like they needed to hedge their bets. So we want to hear the cries of the younger generation- people who have felt oppressed for years- who were told ‘make do with the same resources- yet make it go further’ these people have indeed been wronged in many ways-many of them feel this is their only chance to ‘escape’- and finally- the advice to the protestors- you need a ‘law’ constitution- a statement of just principles that you will hold each other accountable to- maybe an ‘on line’ statement of beliefs to go along with the ‘days of rage’ that are being posted on facebook- some type of open rejection of radical terrorism and holding accountable those who would like to ‘hijack’ the protests for their own purposes. It’s really too late for the West to say ‘okay- we liked the Egypt thing- but now we want to hold up on the rest’. It’s so sad- right after the Egyptian uprising- news organizations like CNN and others- who were actually ‘parties’ to the success of the revolt [yes- watch carefully and you will see] they then ignored the other protests and were headlining their shows with the Grammy winners- yes- whole hours of not mentioning any of the other protests. Or MSNBC making the stop story about Rumsfeld or how 50 % of the Republican primary voters think Obama is a Muslim- I mean a whole hour on this stuff? The media do ‘play the fool’ lots. Just a note- in some nations there are actually protestors [not govt. cronies] who are protesting against the ‘protestors’- that is some more stable economies [Bahrain, Qatar, etc.] many of these nations- though not democratic- have ‘shared the wealth’ with the people-many successful businesses thrive in some of these countries- these more stable people do not want the Egypt revolt to spread- some have pointed out [very legitimately] that when the media focuses the cameras of the world on a few hundred- or thousand protestors- they need to remember that there are many millions who are not protesting [the population of Egypt is 80 million- some did not want revolt] so the media has to be careful that they are not showing the wrong ‘narrative’ in some of these places. All in all- the cats out of the bag- some regimes are indeed going to shoot their protestors- others will try and start a war with Israel- yes- these are very serious times. Lets pray for the safety and freedom for all people- when the children of Israel were under an oppressive regime- the bible says God heard their cry and sent them a deliverer- the New Testament says Jesus is the ‘Moses’ of this day- even Gandhiused thenon violentprinciples of the Sermon on the Mount to have a successful revolt- I hope the present protestors will do the same.
[By the way- in many of these present revolts the citizens are revolting against the autocrats who were installed after their countries broke away from their colonizers- like India from Britain- yet they never transitionedinto real democracies]
 WEEK IN REVIEW [MEDIA BIAS] – Okay, this past week has been big- lots of very important stories. Some ‘news’ outlets present the most favorable view possible- others seem to play into the fears of ‘the West’. Yesterday I read a news paper article- now understand- this is supposed to be straight reporting. The story was about 4 people shot to death as they were protesting in Bahrain- the jist of it went like this ‘as the protests grew out of hand- the govt. increased resources to deal with the unrest- as a result of the govts. attempt to restore order- 4 people died’. Now- out of all the nations that are ‘falling’ Bahrain just might be the most strategically important one for the U.S. We station our ships their [5th fleet- Persian Gulf] and they are a small- yet very important ally. When you have 1 death in Iran- or 20 in Libya- the papers report it as ‘the regime killed innocent people in cold blood’ yet when the media organizations [Associated Press- or whoever] actually try and present an important ally as ‘noble’ when they do the same thing, then they are nor reporting the news in a fair way. This week we had the school teachers protesting in Wisconsin- the newly elected Republican governor has the majority in the state senate/house and he is trying to balance the state budget- and he is wanting to eliminate collective bargaining- except for salary negotiations- in the state [exempting the cops and firefighters]. Okay- as a retired firefighter- who still gets the monthly magazine from my union [international association of firefighters] I see their point- yet as the teachers have taken to the streets to protest- you have seen pictures of the governor [Walker] as good ole Hitler- posters of his face and Mubarak’s together- ‘get rid of the tyrant’ and even a poster of the governor in actual RIFLE SCOPE CROSSHAIRS- saying ‘reload’. Now- we just went thru a few weeks [in the Western media] of CNN- MSNBC- ABC- NBC- CBS- ETC. associating the use of the word ‘target’ and using crosshairs on a political web site- as being possibly responsible for the shooting of rep. Gifford’s in Arizona- yet the same media who were outraged over Palin- seem to be fine with the union protestors actually saying ‘reload’ with an actual scope sight on the Republicangovernors face. So you pretty much have to be blind to not see the bias. Even Diane Sawyer- in her coverage of Bahrain- showed a scope target over the country as they ‘zoomed in’ for the story- I mean they just can’t help themselves! Now- on a more serious note- as Anderson Cooper [CNN] made it his own personal vendetta to go after Mubarak [you know they beat Anderson up] as he was portraying the govt. as evil [in many ways they were] yet at the same time- we now know that 200 protestors [people Anderson gave ‘cover’ to] were raping Lara Logan- a reporter- in the crowd. As they raped her they shouted ‘Jew- Jew’. This must be condemned by everyone- in no uncertain terms. It should be noted that she was rescued by the women on the street along with the military [the same military that Cooper was vilifying on screen at the same time]. Problem? Like I said before- very rarely does one side take all the blame- or another side all the credit. I think it’s important for Western society to realize that there are over a billion Muslims in the world- and lots of us view them thru the paradigm of ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or the Iranian madman- yet in many of these Arab/Persian nations- there are lots of younger generation people who also reject these stereotypes- you have many of the younger generation who have connected with the outside world thru social media and many of them do not fit the mold of radical terrorist. Yet some of these younger people do hold to beliefs that Sharia law should be the law of the land- or some of them have very anti Semitic views that were instilled in them thru their ‘religious’ education -they are taught that Jews are pigs and dogs- we can’t simply overlook the racial hatred that is found in many of these societies- and we must say ‘NO- NOT ACCEPTABLE- YOU CAN’T KEEP DOING THIS AND AT THE SAME TIME EXPECT US TO RESPECT YOU’! So, we need to be honest and fair on all sides- If a govt. we need/like kills it’s people- then don’t report it as ‘ accidental collateral damage’ while a govt. the media doesn’t like says ‘they killed them in cold blood’. If a reporter is miffed because he got his ‘butt kicked’- then don’t present the whole story as the military are all evil- protestors good- especially when some of the protestors are raping a female reporter while shouting ‘JEW- JEW’ and the military are the ones who saved her! I want to take the side of the younger people- who do indeed feel oppressed and beaten down- many of these Arab regimes have been repressive- yet the younger people must openly reject anti Semitism- religious theocracy- they must disassociate themselves from the image that many in the Western world have- when we in the West see the Iranian president appealing for the return of the 12th Imam- calling for the slaughter of the Jews- we see a true nut job who we want nothing to do with [as many other Arab leaders also feel- we now know thanks to Wikileaks]. So the younger protestors have a chance- a chance of a lifetime- to show the West that you reject radicalism- and when an atrocious incident happens on the side of the protestors- one that should have been roundlycondemned- LOUDLY- then we in the West need to hear it.
 IS IT POSSIBLE TO PROTEST TOO MUCH? A couple of days ago I started teaching the story of Moses and God’s delivering of his people from Egypt- I talked about the Ark of the Covenant and the fall of Pharaoh- try and go back and read those posts- and for the next few days I want to simply tell the story found in the book of Exodus [Old Testament]. In Exodus chapters 15- 16 we read the story of the great deliverance of God- in the previous chapters the people were under bondage to oppressive rulers [much like the autocratic rulers in the Arab/Persian world right now] and the people cried/protested and God heard them and he sent them new leaders [Moses] and this new leadership was needed in order for the old guard to pass away. Now- as they proceed on the journey the first spot they come to is a place named Marah- which means bitterness [present day Suez canal area]. They traveled for 3 days and found no water- and atMarah there is water- but the water is bitter, it’s not fit for human consumption. So they complain and Moses finds a stick/tree branch and puts it in the water and the waters ‘are healed’. In Christian teaching this branch is a symbol of Christ [who the bible calls the true vine- also the apostle Peter calls the Cross ‘the tree’] and the symbol means that when people believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ- in a spiritual way the ‘waters are healed’ [people are brought back to God thru the Cross]. The next spot they get to [Elim] has plenty of food and good water. Now- as they continue on the journey they begin missing the old stability they had under the old regime [Pharaoh] they start tocomplain against the new leaders and say ‘you led us out on this journey- now we have no good food like the old days- we will all starve out here- we wish we never protested’ wow- talk about rebels! Okay- Moses gets mad too- thinking to himself ‘man- I never asked for this- and now I’m supposed to put up with this’ [sort of like some of the leaders who have had to fill the gap after Mubarak fell- some of these guys- being prodded by the U.S. govt. are being asked to keep the peace until they can transition into a new Democratic rule]. God answers Moses and tells him he will send them meat and bread- God supernaturally causes a bunch of Quail [birds] to blow into the camp and they have lots of meat- and in the morning when they woke up there was this wafer type bread that was on the ground. The bread is called ‘Manna’ which actually means ‘what is it’. God fed them for 40 years with this ‘unknown’ bread- and he tells Moses to put some in a jar and save it as a memorial of Gods provisions. Eventually this jar with the bread in it will go into the box [the Ark I wrote about a few posts back- which had the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments it] and it will be a reminder to future generations how God was with them on the journey. Okay- a few practical points; it is possible to ‘protest too much’ that is after God initiated the process of ‘new rule’ the people couldn’t just keep protesting their way into a new govt., they had to ‘put up’ with some type of leadership along the way. Right now in Egypt [2-2011] some of the people are split on what to do ‘should we keep protesting’ some ask- others are saying ‘okay- we got Mubarak to step down- we need to give some of these military leaders a chance to set some things up for the elections to come’. In the case of Moses this was Gods will- that is the people went too far in not even being willing to let Moses lead a little. So some times as the protests succeed- there might also need to be a few months of letting the new guys have a chance to get some stuff done. A few interesting points; in chapter 16 the bible says ‘this happened on the 15th day of the 2nd month’. Geez- that’s right around the same time that the present Egyptian uprising also took place [I am aware the months of the Jewish calendar are different than mine- but it’s still pretty good!] and in the book of John [John’s gospel, chapter 6] Jesus has a conversation with the Jewish leaders and he says he himself is ‘the bread of God that came down from heaven’ he says the bread Moses gave them [the Manna spoken about here] was a symbol of his own life and death on the Cross for the sins of the world- he says ‘all who eat/receive me will live’. I find it interesting that in this story the original Jewish people are eating the bread for all these years- and the name of it means ‘what is it’. Both Muslims and Jews respect Jesus, they see him as a prophet sent from God- yet in Christian theology we teach that Jesus is much more than that- he is the ‘sent one’ [Jewish Messiah- the one who originates from God] many well meaning Muslims and Jews ‘have’ Jesus sort of like the Manna- they know the bread is there- they even ‘eat it’ [benefit in a way from it] yet Jesus says ‘I am the true bread- the bread that comes down from heaven and gives my life for the world’. As the Arab world is going thru their own journey right now- facing many difficult days ahead- days where some will be tempted to say ‘we regret this new found journey of freedom- we wish we never left Egypt’ there will also be a chance to feed from the Manna- the bread that has been there all along- the bread that many said of ‘what is it’ [or who is this Jesus] Jesus himself testifies that it is speaking about him- he is the true bread of life- the only ‘leader’ [new Moses] that can truly liberate- may we all find true revolution thru him.
 WATER FROM THE ROCK [plus comments on the present atrocities in Libya] – Before I get into the chapter [Exodus 17] let me overview the latest world events. First- I do not think the majority of Americans realize the ‘bigness’ of what’s going on right now in the Arab/Persian world- the events of the last few weeks are major world changing events that will play a major role in every aspect of American life. The recession? More than likely it will be extended [or double dip] because of the oil situation [unrest and war in and around the major oil producing nations of the world]. Arab allies? Over [at least in the short term]. Last night Gadhafi used the military against his people. The major eastern city of Libya [Benghazi] has fallen [the govt. is no longer in control] the eastern capitol city- Tripoli- is in a war like situation. Gadhafi’s son went on national TV and basically told the country that they are not like Egypt and Tunisia- they will fight back. The son is smart, educated in the West [London- geographically north of Libya- ‘West’ in the sense of the western world- that is London] he told the people ‘do you think the Americans/Brits want you to revolt? This country [Libya] will fall into chaos and the hands of radicals- the West depends on our stability [for oil] and they don’t want you to succeed’. Understand- this is a brilliant power play in the game. Is he telling the truth? In a way- yeah. In all the revolutions taking place- some nations are Arab- others Persian. Some are majority Shiite [Bahrain] with a minority ruling Sunni dynasty. Iran’s leaders are Shiite- they would be glad to see the fall of Bahrain- so the Shiite majority could overthrow the Sunni kings and have more support from Bahrain. Some Arab nations are ‘pro west’- Egypt, Jordan- and even Yemen are/were working with us- many of our friends in the area were shocked that we publicly called for the ouster of Mubarak, because he was our number 1 ally in the Arab world. They thought ‘what the hell are you doing! You picked the wrong king!’ Libya, Iran and Syria areanti western nations- they hate us- we them [in politics]. Yet without a doubt Gadhafi is crossing the line in violent responses to the protestors- yet president Obama has not called for his ouster- not like the way he did with Egypt. The protestors in these countries are confused and see the west as being sell outs. We have protests that seem to be breaking out of the Arab regions and even affecting Asia. There are reports of protestors in China. I obviously am not advocating the apocalypse- but I don’t think we [western society] realize the import of all these events- our world is changing and there is nothing we can do about it- but try and act justly! We [president] can’t go ‘public’ with a king who is bad- but not 1-100th as bad as Libya’s leader- and then go ‘silent’ on him [the president and U.S. position has been to speak out against the violence- good- but we have decided to not go public in support of the people and the call for the leader to step down]. So all in all we need to act justly- love mercy- and walk humbly with our God [Micah- Old Testament prophet].
Okay- Exodus 17. As the people of God continue on the journey of freedom- they once again come to a place where they lack water- they complain to Moses and God tells Moses to strike the rock with his rod/stick and water will come out. This supernatural miracle is spoken about by the apostle Paul in 1stCorinthians chapter 10. He says all the people who were with Moses on the journey drank from the spiritual rock that was to come- Christ. The church has songs about Jesus being the rock who was broken open so salvation could come to the nations ‘Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee’ [also from the story we will read later when God puts Moses in a cleft in the mountain/rock and passes by him]. All these stories speak of Jesus as the savior of the world. The New Testament tells us when Jesus was on the Cross the soldier pierced his side with a spear and blood and water came out. So Jesus is the rock that was struck [by God- Isaiah 53] and we all can ‘drink’ the living water [Gods Spirit] that flows from his side.
And in keeping with the format of these posts [I’m going to put all these posts in one study and call them ‘insights from a revolution’- Exodus]let me try and give some practical advice for all our readers/friends from around the world who might be in these countries who are revolting. In this chapter the word used against Moses when the people complained is translated ‘Quarrel’ in English- in the original Hebrew language the word really means a legal complaint against leadership- that is they were wanting to bring Moses to court! In many of the current cases of revolution- some simply want change- others want justice- some revenge. In the case of Moses and ‘his revolution’ the people made the mistakeof going too far by wanting Moses to stand before the ‘court’ that is they raised their level of protest too high. My advice- in all the nations going thru these things- I side with the people- and do see the tragic mistake the west has made by siding with these dictators for all these years- we truly did overlook the rights of people for the stability of oil- we sinned. Having said that- revolution is messy- and some might go too far in their complaint- that is the bottom line is freedom and democracy for the people- not vengeance on past leaders. In due time those who have committed crimes should be held accountable- but right now the bottom line is freedom and democracy- and NON VIOLENT protests. In Libya the leader has hired mercenaries from the Sub-Saharan part of the continent- these paid soldiers are in the streets of Libya- killing innocents. They are foreign people who don’t even speak Arabic [they speak French- remember parts of Africa were colonized by the British and French- Algeria used to be under French rule] the scene is surreal- so we condemn all these atrocities that are being carried out by these leaders- we call for peaceful protestors to be treated with dignity and respect- and I think our president should also speak out more on the Libyan situation. Let’s all PRAY FOR PEACE- FOR ALL NATIONS.
 LIBYA [Exodus 18] – Before I get into the chapter, let me cover a few news stories. Obviously the biggest event taking place right now is the tragedy in Libya. Gadhafi has decided to use his troops against the civilian population – as of last night he seems to be taking his final stand in the western capitol city of Tripoli. A famous Imam put out a Fatwa [Islamic call for assassination] on his head- I must admit this is the first time I think the Fatwa is justified. President Obama finally spoke after 9 days of silence; he tried his best. As I listened to a woman holed up in Tripoli- she called CNN’S Anderson Cooper on her cell phone- she was giving him up to date info on the situation in Tripoli. Cooper seemed happy to let her go on- at one point she said all of the people in Libya felt so let down by Obama’s speech- they thought they could look to the west for real help and a much stronger condemnation- she was being very honest- and explained clearly the real feeling on the ground- Cooper cut her off [you can tell they clipped the audio in the middle] obviously she was not giving the story that CNN wants to hear. What’s going on? What can we really do? The fall of Tunisia [right to the west of Libya] was a speedy downfall- the leader- Ben Alli caved quickly. Egypt was a surprise- many observers debated the wisdom of the U.S. govt. calling for the rapid removal of Mubarak. If you carefully read/watched the coverage- you could read between the linesand tell that certain more conservative Democrats were not wanting the quick downfall of Mubarak- other more progressive [liberal] Democrats did think it would be ‘beneficial’ [politically] for the president to take the side of Democracy. Obama sent Gibbs out [former press secretary] and he said ‘Mubarak should have been gone yesterday’ the president made his choice- Mubarak’s gone and Gibbs has since ‘retired’. So I’m sure some insiders said to Obama ‘you do this- and you will set the Middle East on fire’. Now- I am not blaming him for what’s going on- but it’s obvious that after seeing the tragedy in Libya- the Somali pirates killing the 4 hostages off their coast- the pirates opening fire on our warships- it’s obvious that the level of fear that the U.S. used to have- is gone. Obama seems to be hesitant about the next step- some reports said ‘he hasn’t spoken out too strongly because we fear for the safety of Americans in Libya’ wrong signal for sure. How bad will it get? During the day I saw a ‘best case/worst case’ scenario on Bloomberg news [financial show] the worst case scenario was the violence will spread to Saudi Arabia and oil will hit $220 dollars a barrel [Libya alone would not do this- they are Africa’s number one producer of oil- but number 8 on the world stage. By contrast Saudi Arabia produces 20 % of the world’s oil supply]. Later on Hannity reported this as what some analysts are saying will happen- he did not say it was a worst case scenario [he did take it out of context]. Frankly- no one really knows how bad it will get- but as of right now there is a humanitarian disaster talking place on a scale we haven’t seen in many years- forget Wisconsin [as a major news event] forget ‘high speed rail’ and realize that this is the major event of this presidency- how to deal with it in a just way. Europe is in real danger if these dictators make the conscious choice to fight their people [Yemen has also opened fire on its protestors- and the western media are not reporting on the fact that Iraqi police/military have also fired on some of their people- when the reports do come out they say ‘Kurds’ which is a tricky way to not say ‘Iraq’]. Sarkozy [French president] made a stronger statement than Obama- they realize this fire is on their back door- the refugees continuing to flee Africa [Tunisia first- now Libya] are causing a major problem for the region. And Iran’s warships ships have indeed passed thru the Suez Canal for the first time in 30 years. I heard Shimon Peres [Israel] give a speech in Madrid [Spain] he warned of Iran’s nuclear threat and said if they don’t deal with it a nuke will end up blowing up Madrid one day. Yet as I heard him speak about the unrest in North Africa and the Middle east- he wisely attributed it to the younger generation of people being connected to the internet/facebook- and how they for the first time realize what true freedom looks like- they also see corruption- things that they were never able to see before- and that they now realize their leaders have abused them. Listen carefully- if any leader was going to ‘cover up’ for these protests being run by radical Islamists- it wouldn’t be Perez. So we need to watch carefully- we need to understand that the choices we make now [as a nation] will have a real impact in the world. I heard some Middle East experts [not right wing radio people] say the presidents unwillingness to come out sooner and much more strongly was a huge mistake- that the people in these countries loose heart when they feel like the west is not behind them, and the dictators use this as a wedge to oppress and kill the people- many in the media do not want this story to get out [the feeling of let down that many feel by the U.S. president]. As I listened to the woman calling from Tripoli- risking her life to get the story out- as she began telling this side of the story- Cooper seemed to have no time for it.
Will get to Exodus tomorrow.
NOTE- I do not think these events should be used in a political way- whether for or against the president. Nick Robertson- a reporter for CNN- was on the streets of Egypt a few days back, at the time I heard some on ‘the left’ begin trying to spin a story that Obama’s speech given in Cairo in 2009 was the catalyst for this new Democracy uprising in the world- you could tell that the left was pushing a narrative that would benefit them- as well as the right trying to push one that would help their side. Yet as Robertson was interviewing Egyptian protestors- he asked one guy ‘and what do you think about Obama- don’t you think he gets some credit for the Democraticuprising’ and the protestor said in no uncertain terms that he felt Obama was a sell out- It was a littlesurprising [to me and Robertson]. He then found another protestor- trying to get a more positive response- he asked him the same question- got the same answer. Okay-at this point- non biased journalism should simply report the story- or drop it. Instead Robertson than said ‘but even though you think Obama didn’t speak out soon enough- aren’t you at least glad that he has finally spoken out’ and the guy still wouldn’t budge- he simply said this is not an ‘Obama’ story- and seemed confused that Robertson seemed to make it all about the U.S.- sort of narcissistic. Then to my surprise- Robertson turns to the camera [it was a live shot during the protests]and says ‘there you have it- the feeling on the street is they are elated that the president is now supporting them’. When the media does this stuff [whetherright wing or left] they do a disservice to the people who are dying for the cause they believe in.
 DONT DEAL ARROGANTLY WITH THE PEOPLE- DON’T TAKE BRIBES! Okay, before we do news- lets cover Exodus 18. Remember- the reason I’m doing this series [Exodus- insights from a Revolution] is because of the obvious present situation  in North Africa and the Arab/Persian world. While I am not sure how all these ‘Revolutions’ will turn out, the fact is they are happening. So doing this series is for the purpose of appealing to those who are ‘revolting’ for truly democratic purposes [as opposed to those with other goals] and to say ‘look- if you want change- than this is the right/noble way to go about it’. Okay- in this chapter Moses is confronted by his father in-law, he says to Moses ‘why are you wearing yourself out like this? Delegate some authority to those under you and let them share the load’. Moses was ‘judging’ the people all day- he was personally hearing all the disputes- from morning till night- and it was too much. So Moses takes his father in laws advice and appoints Elders- leaders who will take care of the smaller decisions- but the ‘big’ ones will come before him. I heard president Obama say the other day ‘when a problem gets to me- it by nature is a difficult one’ he was saying all the easy ones get solved down the line- they never make it to him. Moses father in law praises God for the way he delivered the people from EGYPT and he says ‘God did a just thing in overthrowing Pharaoh- because he dealt arrogantly with the people’ in many of the present protests you hear this as a common theme among the youth- they are not calling for Islamic Jihad [generally] they are mad that they have been treated with disrespect- they want to be treated like humans. The father in-law also says ‘when you appoint new leaders- make sure there men who won’t take bribes’ another cause for dissent among the protestors- corruption in leadership.
Okay- a few current events that might be relevant.One of the major problems the U.S. govt. is going to have [or let’s say get worse] is the reality that all the years and lives and money spent on our wars- in the end it looks like the leaders we backed [in Iraq and Afghanistan] are doing no better than the leaders in all the other countries who have protestors. To be honest- the regime of Hamid Karzai [Afghanistan] is one of the most corrupt out of them all. So how do we justify fighting ‘on one side’ while they are as corrupt as all these other leaders who are falling like bowling pins? Like I said before- it might be time for us to seriously look at a real exit strategy. I have been following the story of Raymond Davis, the U.S. spy who shot 2 Pakistanis a few weeks ago. The U.S. media kept reporting the official govt. line- that he was an innocent diplomat who was being robbed in Pakistan- and he shot these thieves out of self defense. Yet the Pakistanis would not release him. They actually were being more diplomatic by saying ‘well- he did kill 2 people- we can’t just release him’ after weeks of the Obama administration calling for his ‘immediaterelease’ and stating how this is such a human rights abuse- finally some of our C.I.A. guys leaked the true story. That yes- he was spying for us- illegally- and he shot 2 Pakistaniintelligence people who were legitimately following him. Why did our C.I.A guys have to leak the truth? Because the Obama administration was actually allowing the false story to go very public- they made it sound like the Pakistanis were committing an atrocity- and the truth is all countries practice ‘spying’ and when they get caught- part of the game is- well you got caught. The U.S. govt. is still holdingspies we caught years ago. But yet instead of the U.S. govt. accepting the card they were dealt [caught- do your best behind the scenes to work it out] they were allowing the media to report it as some type of hostage thing ‘they have our innocent U.S. diplomat- look at this atrocity’ geez- are our guys real armatures or what? So the C.I.A. insiders looked at what Obama was doing and took a great risk to tell the truth. Now- why was this leak a risk? Understand- no other president- in the history of all past presidents- has gone afterleakers like president Obama. He has pursued/prosecuted more leakers than any other U.S. president in history- in the first 2 years of being in office! Yes- more in 2 years than Bush in 8- that’s a fact. One ‘leaker’ who was caught- was expecting to get in trouble [like lose his job] and found out that Obama prosecuted him for a very long prison term- he was a very able man- educated and serving the country- the leak [like most leaks] was something he thought needed to be done [like the C.I.A. thing I just mentioned] after he realized the administration wanted to destroy him- he pleaded for mercy. Our govt. ruined the man- broke up his family- kids, wife- the whole 9 yards- and told every other potential leaker ‘you mess with me- we will absolutely destroy you and your family’ now- you don’t see this image in public- but in private that’s the way this administration decided to go [all these stories have been reported in the media- they usually don’t trickle down to the public at large]. So now you see why I say the above C.I.A guys took a real risk in leaking. The point? When govts. are caught spying- or breaking other countries laws- we should do our best to mitigate the thing- but to actually allow it to get so out of hand as to create a permanentrift among these nations- that’s just amateurish. So we all need to be aware that the U.S. – as well as the countries we are fighting for/against- all have legitimate times when they are wronged- or are doing what’s wrong. We can’t always view things thru a prism that says ‘we were right’ often times we are not. And when picking leaders- they need to be people who are above ‘bribes’ [corruption] men who truly are just- who care for people. When leaders cheat- steal- mislead- abuse people- in the end they have ‘dealt arrogantly with the people-and God will remove them’.
 LOOK FOR THE UNION LABEL [and maybe buy some stock in Nescafe?]
Okay- it’s been a busy news week- I haven’t really commented on the Union situation in Wisconsin and want to cover it some. First- much of the world has been in protest mode for the last year. Originally the problem was the austerity measures that Europe was trying to put in place in order to deal with their debt, and just this week we saw more riots on the streets of Greece- setting a cop on fire. The protests in Wisconsin [and spreading to Ohio and other states] are in nature the same as the European protests [though not as severe] that is the unions [teachers] are protesting the states attempts to abolish collective bargaining, except for the ability to bargain for salaries. The Europeans are mad about changes in their retirement age and stuff like that- protests that are different than what we are seeing in the Middle East and North Africa. Now- who’s right in this situation? The newly elected Republican governor[s] are trying to get rid of the Cadillac benefits plans that many of the Northern states have for their public sector employees. As a retired firefighter in the south I do not get near what retiredfirefighters in the North get. I have no benefits except a monthly retirement check- I’m hoping I don’t get sick- I still have 12 years to go before I am eligible for Medicare. So why do the northern retirees have better packages? Over time unions have managed to gain lots of political power- and when people run for public office- they have learned that if you want the cops and firefighters [and teachers- etc.] to support you- you promise them stuff. After a while some of the northern states simply gave away too much- and they put the cost into the future [Cadillac benefit plans] and now the chicks are coming home to roost. That’s really the nuts and bolts of the thing. Okay- are the unions/teachers bad? No. The system just got out of control and politicians worked the system by putting off the costs to a day when they would not be around anymore [Like Obama’s recent budget- not dealing at all with the debt.]. So after the recent elections lots of Republicans got in and yes indeed they do want to get rid of the system. Why? Well here’s where the ‘rest of the story’ comes in. While it is true that the elimination of these rights would make it easier for states to get their budgets in order- it’s also true that these unions usually support Democratic candidates around 95 % of the time [if not 100]. So these Republicans got elected despite the unions spending all they had on keeping them from getting in. Once they got in- with new majorities in their state houses- they saw the chance to not only get rid of a system that has strapped state budgets- but also a way to finally get rid of the number 1 funding mechanism for the opposing party. So do these governors have the right to do this? Yes indeed they do- that’s part of the game. Do the Democratic senators have ‘the right’ to flee to other states? Well they have ‘the right’ but in the long run the way democracies work is you try you hardest to elect people who will support your side, and if those who don’t support your side get elected- then that’s the way the ball bounces. You might disagree with Governor Walker- and think his hard-line tactic of going for broke is too much- yet he has the right to do it. And if we as a country start walking out of the states [or Washington] because we feel that’s the only way to stop the other side from voting- well that in the long run will not work. My personal view is I think the teachers have tried to do their best to say ‘we will give up more benefits- pay more into the system- we just don’t want to lose collective bargaining’ hey- I hear you. But as a firefighter there were a few times when our city threatened to do away with our contract- we fought back [not by striking] and we won- but the reality was- if we lost- we would have lost fair and square. So ultimately if these new governors/state houses have gone Republican- and they get rid of collective bargaining- then the public sector employees simply need to regroup for the next election and try and get new people in- that’s the way Democracy works- to simply leave the state is not how democracy works [just a note- F.D.R. the father of modern entitlements- said that the public sector was no place for collective bargaining. When private workers bargain for wages and benefits- they are going up against the company they work for- in the end the owners/management and the workers come to a deal with their own money- the money the co. makes and the money the people earn. When you carry this into the state/federal arena- you are bargaining with other people’s money, tax payers. After a while- when tax payers are losing homes- making much less pay- no benefits like the public workers are getting, then these taxpayers only resource to even things out is to elect new leaders who will cut benefits. If at that point the representatives of the union’s walk off the job- then they are no longer truly representing all the people in their area- they are representing a sector that supports them- and this is not fair to all the people. Both private sector tax payers- who are footing the bill- and the union workers should have their voices heard]. I do realize that the union workers pay taxes too.
And now to the stock advice; as the tragedy unfolds in Libya, it is surreal to see the Libyan leader giving these disoriented speeches from atop a building on Green Square in Tripoli. He is telling the people ‘sing- dance- be happy- we are people of the revolution’ it truly seems like the man has lost his mind. At one point he said ‘Bin Laden is behind all this- he is spiking the Nescafe [instant coffee] with drugs’. I had a picture in my mind of Bin Laden sitting in some cave in Pakistan- eating his Pakistani Menudo and saying ‘What? I have enough worries without this other madman blaming all this on me!’ The ‘funny’ thing about these guys is we in the west have been fearing an Islamic Caliphate- we seem to think all these radicals/terrorists are plotting in unison to get us. While I’m sure they want to get us- I never realized how inept they were at even controlling their own people- I mean one tyrant blaming a terrorist for the revolt in his kingdom- and telling the world he’s spiking the Nescafe! If the company is smart- they should come out with a new slogan ‘Nescafe- the coffee that tyrants hate’ hey- that’s what I call the capitalist’s dream.
 ‘DID YOU SEE HOW FAST EGYPT FELL?’ God. In Exodus 19 the Lord brings the people to mount Sinai and his first instructions- before giving them the 10 commandments- is he tells them ‘You yourselves have seen what I did in Egypt- and how I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession above all people- for all the earth is mine’. Those of you following these posts- especially you guys from the ‘DAYS OF RAGE’ Facebook pages- it is interesting that these instructions were given to the people in the beginning of the 3rd month [bible calendar time] yet as I’m teaching this the 1st time around- by ‘accident’ it just so happens that today is the beginning of the 3rd month [March 1st 2011]. During the current day revolts taking place in the world- Egypt’s rapid fall was indeed a catalyst for the present day revolts. Now in this chapter God uses the reality of what happened in Egypt as an encouragement to bring the people to himself. He says ‘did you not see the quick deliverance in Egypt? Realize I’m at work in this thing- obey my voice- seek me at this time’. As of this morning Libya still hasn’t fallen- yet Gadhafi is the first leader to actually fight his revolt with arms. Many world observers are asking questions ‘has the U.S. responded right? Is Obama doing a good job’ some are calling for a no fly zone- others are wanting to air drop inhumanitarian aid- all in all this is one of those decisions that both the current vice president [Biden] and secretary of state [Clinton] said they sincerely felt candidate senator Obama was not ready for. During the campaign I listened carefully to these 2individuals sincerely make this claim- Biden would say stuff like ‘look- Barak is a good man- with lots of future potential- I do like him- but to be honest- not critical- he just is not ready for the job- he will be tested because of this and I sincerely do not feel he is ready’ the problem with politicians is after they get put on the team they change their tune- say ‘sure we said that- we are all politicians’ well now we need leaders- not a bunch of ‘bull’ [to put it mildly]. Okay- we were naïve to think that all future revolutions would go as smoothly as Egypt- Libya is a tough nut to crack. If the U.S. takes the lead- goes in and takes the man out- what message will it send? Will all the other protestors in ‘friendly’ countries take it as a sign that if things get out of hand- if they put themselves in situations where they get fired on- then we will be forced to intervene? Yes, these are all tough questions- the job of president is tough- thank God we don’t have a bunch of Harry Reid’s and John Kerry’s who went around the country accusing the opposing president of being a murderer who purposely tricked us into war and who is an abysmal failure [note- I am against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan- yet the opposing party felt it their duty to speak like this in their criticism of Bush- thank God there are no Republicans who are openly saying this about Obama- behind the scenes- yes- but not in public- yet]. So the choice is tough- our European allies have all been faster and stronger in their condemnations and the present administrations excuse was ‘we had people on the ground’ but now that they’re out [ferried to the island of Malta in the Mediterraneansea] just ‘watch’. Well, I have been watching- there is nothing to see! God willing this administration will get their act together. While I do not advocate an all out invasion- yet when true humanitariancrimes are being committed- you act- remember Bosnia? Another event the Democrats used to criticize the Repub’s for ‘look- we Dem’s use force- we’re not scared’. Just wish people would do their jobs and quit comparing everything to the opposing side. It’s time to act- act.
Note- sanctions and freezing bank accounts and all these types of things are useless when dealing with a real time humanitarian crisis- a possible genocide. These other tools are not the things you use when dealing with crimes of this nature.
Okay- in this chapter [Exodus 19] we see Mount Sinai, a mountain that represents the first covenantGod made with man- the 10 Commandments. In Galatians and Hebrews [chapters 5 and 12 respectively] the bible tells us that we today are at a ‘new mountain’ we have come to a heavenly city- the mountain that represents the New Covenant, called mount Zion- not a physical location any more- but a spiritual community of people- made up of all nations and races- Jews, Arabs, Muslims, everyone is welcome to enjoy the freedom and grace that this new city affords. The New Testament says this city [the church-people of God] has gates that are open all the time- that is people are ‘comingin’ and ‘going out’ 24-7. It is not bound by earthly boundaries- the shaking of nations will not affect it- yet the nations themselves will shake and fall [yes- this actual wording is used in the bible] so today we are seeing a shaking of many nations- people are afraid of radical expressions of Islam- others in the West struggle over the approach- should we quake and fear and give in to worst case scenarios ‘LOOK- THE MUSLIMS ARE TAKING OVER’. The answer is all nations and peoples are going to shake- the govts. of the world are all temporary- yes even the great old U.S. of A. At these times we find stability and freedom in the mountain of God- not Sinai- some old expression of govt. that represented bondage and pain [read Galatians chapter 5!] but we have come to mount Zion- a great assembly of people- from all nations- who are yearning for freedom from oppression- seeking justice and righteousness- rejecting the way of the sword and the gun- yes this new mountain is greater than all the mountains of the earth [Ezekiel, Daniel] and in the last days all the mountains [which represent governments in the bible] of the world will collapse-and the mountain of the Lord will be the only one left standing- flee to that mountain- fast!
Just a note to my Muslim readers- we all have prejudices we need to overcome- even while writing the above post I debated on using the biblical language of Zion. The reason is obvious. Yet in the bible the meaning, as used by the New Testament writers- is not speaking about modern Zionism [a geopolitical view of the world and the present situation in Israel/Palestine] but it speaks about a new reality- that thru Jesus Christ all nations can find peace and harmony thru him. At the end of the day the answer is not going to be found in overthrowing one human govt. for another- but the answer will ultimately be found in Gods government- which is a spiritual kingdom called the kingdom of God [read the gospel of John chapter 3].
 BIG OIL? A few years ago I remember the controversy that arose when gas went up to 3 dollars a gallon. Many blamed Bush for not having an effective energy policy in place- yet many of these same dissenters were also responsible for stopping the drilling for oil off of our coasts- places like Alaska were deemed off limits, not just off the coast, but on land as well. While these issues are highly volatile- many on both sides once again seem to only see their side of the argument- yet we do need to seriously look at our countries long term strategy when debating this issue. The other day I caught an interview between twogovernors- Montana’s and Indiana’s. They were discussing the effectiveness of their fiscal policies [Montana Dem- Indiana Repub] and the Montana gov. defended the union side of the uproar in Wisconsin. He shared how he has worked within the collective bargaining system and has still kept his state in good fiscal condition. I did find it ‘less than honest’ that one of the main reasons the economies of Montana’s area [Northern, central part of the country] are experiencing a sort of boon is because of- well yes- big oil! You know- that smelly disgusting man made product- O wait- I forgot- it actually is not some chemical product of man- it actually is a ‘natural resource’ yes- did you ever think about the fact that oil [unrefined] is in the same category of sand, water, air- yes- it comes from the earth- not from a factory! When we were seeing the B.P. disaster play out on screen- did you [do you now?] see it as some type of 1970’s chemical spill that used to regularly take place in our country? You know the factories used to get away with pouring their chemicals into the rivers and oceans- thanks to environmentalists action- these things have stopped. Yet when we all sat in awe, day after day, watching the B.P. oil spill [yes- it was as fixating as the present Medias obsession with Charlie Sheen] we simply ‘saw it’ as a factory type spill- not an actual natural- earth produced resource- spilling into the gulf. Now- I do understand that man had a hand in the thing- for instance it’s not natural to stick a pipe into the ocean floor and then spill millions of barrels of it into the gulf- yes that was bad- a ‘pollutant’ in the sense of it being a man caused disaster- yet the ingredient itself- oil- is a natural thing- like all other natural resources. So- in the governor’s debate- they never mentioned that the only 2 states that are not facing budget deficits are Montana and North Dakota [they sit side by side on the U.S. Canadian border]. Why? I heard a report the other day on North Dakota- it was an interesting story about the unemployment rate in the state- a little over 3 percent. The report noted how many of the towns can’t keep the shelves of the stores stocked fast enough- people are buying goods left and right- some workers are complaining that after work there are not enough women in town to go out on dates with- the male workers are outnumbering the women by huge majorities. Why? Over the last few years the oil field companies have developed a new way to dig for oil- and this new engineering [not high speed rail!] is creating thousands of jobs in digging for oil. That’s the reason for the boon- for the good fiscal condition of these 2 northern states- its creating jobs- helping our country to not be so dependent on foreign sources- and it’s natural! Yes-the refineries ‘refine’ it- but it’s still a wonderful product. It has been estimated that if we opened up the Alaskan waters for drilling- it would create around 55 thousand jobs- and the oil that we would get would replace the entire amount of oil that might be lost if Libya goes under as an oil producer. The point is we need to be responsible [yes- burning oil is not natural- from vehicles and factories and wherever, and this process does indeedcause air pollution that does contribute to global warming] we need to have policies in place that protect the environment- which is a very valuable natural resource- we don’t want to destroy our land. Yet we also want to look at the reality on the ground- our economy is simply not ready for a massive switch from oil to other products- T. Boone Pickens invested millions into wind mills, made a serious effort at the thing. He has since said it was a huge mistake-why? Because he now realizes that the country does not have the infrastructure to switch over. Some company invested millions into solar roof panels- the same thing happened- they were too expensive and many people simply did not want them. So until we get further down the road in transitioning into a society that uses clean fuels- we’re stuck with oil- you know- that wonderful, natural, earth produced good. I’d rather drill for it off our coasts, then have our kids die for it off Tripoli’s.
 EXODUS 20- God gives the people his law- the famous ’10 commandments’. In Greek it is Decalogue [meaning 10 words] and these laws are actually in the form of an ancient treaty type document- in essence God was not just saying ‘do this- don’t do that’ but he was telling them if they wanted to survive as a people, a society- then they needed law, just principles from which to govern themselves by- and also to holdeach other accountable to their government and God.
As I continue to write and post about current world affairs- I also do lots of actual scholarly studying- I try and ‘mix’ world events in with historical perspectiveand keep my thinking in line with others who have gone on before us- stable thinkers, people who represent a broad range of thought. It’s too easy [and dangerous!] to view all things from a limited perspective- and then to see your view confirmed by your limited reading of the events. I saw a minister on one of the history channel shows speaking about his view of the ‘end of the world’. It was obvious that the program was allowing him to share his view- not because they thought it to be accurate- but because they wanted to show how people can see their beliefs confirmed by world events- if that’s what they want to see. Now- let me give you an example; during WW2 the church in Germany was divided- some wanted to work in accord with the state [Hitler] and others said they wanted no type of ungodly alliances with the state. Men like DietrichBonheofferwould reject Hitler’s ideals and be part of ‘the confessing church’ [those evangelicals who would not work with Hitler]. Another very famous theologian [scholar] would sign his name to an important document that stated the same idea of not condoning Hitler’s regime- his name was Karl Barth [considered by many to be the most influential theologian of the 20th century] the document was called The Barmen Declaration. In these cases the church felt she needed to speak out about world events- to side with those who were being oppressed- and to condemn those who were oppressing.
As I write this morning- we come off a day where our forces accidentally killed 9 Afghan boys who were out collecting wood for fire. Gen. Petraeus publicly apologized. Hamid Karzai is livid [rightfully so] and we are rapidly losing the support of the people [and I don’t blame them]. Yemen’s president gave a very revealing speech- he told his country that he was going to ‘reveal a secret’. He said there is a secret operations room in Tel Aviv [Israel] and the purpose for it is to conspire against the Arab world and that the U.S. and Israelregularly meettoplan the overthrow of the Arab world. He obviously feels the heat [like all these other nations- he has protestors in the streets] but the fact that these leaders are actually speaking like this openly- our ties to these Arab nations are over. At the airport in Germany- a Muslim employee opened fire on 4 people- killing 2 American soldiers. Reports are he shouted ‘Allah Akbar’ [God is great] while firing his weapon.
In the media there are 2 narratives you can see; some ‘news organizations’ have made the top stories about Rumsfeld and any past mistakes/possible crimes committed under the Bush administration. Now- I guess there is a proper time for this- but not during the same day when the current administration and U.S. forces are involved in so many real-time scenarios, actual things that can change our world for years to come. Other news channels focus on the worst case scenarios- seeming to leave no room for any hope at all. I think both of these extremes are dangerous for our country- and we need to be realistic about the very real dangers- including our countries financial problems [there is talk in the world about dropping the U.S. dollar as the world reserve currency- and some analysts believe that China and others will stop buying our debt- financing us] These are very real dangers that we face as a country.
So what should the church do? First- I believethe ongoing killing of civilians [even by mistake!] is something that has to stop. Many Americans see the shooting of our soldiers at the German base as ‘terrorism’ and view the accidental killing of the 9 boys as ‘collateral damage’. We must understand- that the mothers of these boys don’t see it like that- and the rest of the Arab world as well. When God gave the people the ‘10 laws’ he was telling them there are some veryfundamental rules that all nations will need to abide by if they want to survive. Most of us are familiar with them- and most of us know what the big one is ‘thou shalt not kill’- I think too many of us have stepped over this line one too many times.
 BEHOLD, I AMMAKING A COVENANT. BEFORE ALLYOUR PEOPLE I WILL DO MARVELS- SO AS HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED IN ALL THE EARTH OR IN ANY NATION, AND ALL THE PEOPLE AMONG WHO YOU ARE SHALL SEE THE WORK OF THE LORD- FOR IT IS AN AWESOME THING THAT I WILL DO WITH YOU. OBSERVE WHAT I COMMAND YOU THIS DAY- EX. 34:10.
In our Exodus study we are actually in chapter 23, but these past few weeksI have been reading thru some key passages and before we get too far in the study I want to make sure we hit them. In the above verse God is telling the people that this deliverance- an actual historical event that took place around 1400 years B.C.- that this Divine change taking place- was a world changing event that had greater implications than what they presently understood. In chapter 23 the Lord tells the people that he is sending his messenger [angel] before them- and they need to pay close attention to the words he is speaking. In the bible [especially the Old Testament] the angel of God at times is associated with God himself. In the book of Revelation God is communicating a prophetic vision to the apostle John thru angels [messengers]. Basically God is telling his people that they need to stay on message- and that the message needs to be in line with his character [my messenger- the things I have/will say]. In another chapter we will hear God tell Moses ‘put the words/law I give you into the box’. God tells Moses to put the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments into the Ark of the covenant- as opposed to what Moses might say or think. The point being all of us [Christian ministers, Jewish leaders, Imams] we need to make sure we are speaking the words of God, not man.
At this time [as I write] I have friends reading these posts from all over the spectrum. Many have been reading straight from the blog site- others from various other spots where these posts show up. As a Christian- I of course hold to the biblical teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the ‘Son of God’ who came to redeem man and died and rose again for the sins of man. Now- why the emphasis on the term ‘Son of God’. In Islam- many good Muslim people are taught- from their youth- that to even read/say this term is blasphemous. Why? In Islam many believe that using this term means that God ‘had sexual relations’ with the Virgin Mary- and many good Muslims sincerely will not listen to a Christian teacher because they are taught that to even hear the term is wrong. So as Christians we need to explain that in Christian teaching this term does not mean that- the Christian faith teaches that the Holy Spirit did a miracle with the Virgin Mary and Mary became pregnant with Jesus- not by a sexual act- but by a Divine miracle. So some bible versions- in an effort to overcome the obstacle that Muslims have about the term ‘Son of God’ [because they see this term in a different way than Christians] have substituted the words ‘Son of God’ with ‘the one who originates from God’. There is a debate among Christians on whether or not this is right [many Christians do not think this interpretation is acceptable] but it seems to be an honest effort among Christian missionaries to introduce the bible to the Muslim people in a way that allows them to get past the first obstacle- of not even wanting to read the words ‘Son of God’. Okay- said all that to say this- in this study of Exodus- we are reading a real biblical account of what took place in time- an account that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in. So as much as I want to continue to make the case for the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah- yet at the same time I want to also teach the biblical account in a way that all 3 faiths can learn from. And I want to be able to be a voice of moderation in the conversation
Often time’sradical voices from all 3 of the above religions are the voices that seem to get the most notice. Lastnight I caught an interview with the lawyer who went to the Supreme Court and won the case for the Christian church to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. Herein the U.S. we have this Baptist church [Westboro Baptist church] that has been holding up picket signs at the funerals of soldiers that say mean- offensive things ‘God hates fags’ and stuff that should not be said. Yet they won their case because it is a free speech issue- and on the program I watched, they let this lawyer- who is also a family member of the preacher of the church- she went on and shared her view about God and the bible- and to be frank it is a very ignorant view- a bigoted idea of God and the bible, yet it is a view that prevails among many Christians [not the ‘God hates fags’ view- but other separatist ideas] and it leaves no room for having a moderate conversation among the other religions of the world. So as we progress in this study- we see the importance of the word of God- the commands and character of God. We see that God is up to something that is bigger- more important than the people understand at the time- and we see that things take time. At the end of the chapter God says as he brings the people into the land- they will not take all the land at once- lest the wild beats take over the land- but he will gave them a little land at a time, just enough territory to establish a functioning society- before gaining new ground.
I think we all need to re evaluate and take a look at the present landscape [both symbolically andgeographically] and give things some time to settle in- to establish rule and order before we take too much area at once. Right now in Libya- there seems to be a standoff between the protestors [rebels- they don’t like this term] and Gadhafi. The country- though big in geographical terms- is relatively small in population [compared to Egypt- 80 million people]. Libya has 6million people- 90 % live right off the Mediterranean coast- and the forces in the east [major city- Ben Ghazi] are up against Gadhafi’s stronghold in the west- Tripoli. As I watch all the reports we need to be careful that we don’t misread the situation—even though there were reports of civilian deaths- it does not look like Gadhafi has opened up his air force on the civilian population- not in a way it was reported at first. So even though we [the west] condemn the deaths that have taken place- I’m not sure that we are seeing what some have described as a Genocide [which I too said in the beginning]. So maybe the Middle East, Africa- and even parts of Asia- maybe it’s time to sit back and regroup some. I’m speaking to those who are wanting freedom- NON VIOLENT protestors who are protesting to gain human rights- I’m not talking military strategy here! Andin today’s chapter [and the verse I quoted at the top] God is saying to the people ‘I am doing an awesome work in the world right now- obey me-listen to my words- I will give you bread [instruction] every morning [the Manna on the ground] I have given you my words [WORDS THATHAVE SAID- DON’T KILL! TO ALL SIDES] make sure you organize your newfound freedom around these things- don’t use this freedom for a chance to sin- to release anarchy/lawlessness [read Galatianschapter 5] but instead use this new freedom to serve God and love your fellow man’.
 DEBT/DEFICIT – Okay- another big news week. Let’s talk a little about the debt/deficit. First, these 2 things are not the same, though in the media they sometimes get confused. This week the ‘left wing’ media has decided to fight against the ‘right wing’ and they had a few talking heads saying ‘there is no debt problem in the country- or in Wisconsin’. And of course the right shot back ‘are you nuts!’ Right now our govt. budget is around 3.5 trillion dollars [what we will spend this year as a govt.- not G.D.P. which is a number we use when talking about the trade deficit- which also gets confused with the govt. deficit- they are also 2 different things] so, we plan on spending 3.5 trillion. We bring in [thru taxes] around 2.4 trillion a year. So we are over budgeted by 1.1 trillion- we will borrow the money to pay the bill. Our debt- the amount that gets put on the credit card- the principle that we borrow- is now 15 trillion dollars. No matter what anybody says- that’s way too much. Why? When Bush took office [G.W.] the debt was 5 trillion- in all the years of the existence of our country- it never went over that number- and it took many years to get there. In 8 years of Bush [and 2 wars] the number hit 10 trillion. It doubled in 8 years. At the time many economists saw a real problem- but being the economy was doing okay- we kinda thought we would pay off the debt [credit card balance] as time went by. Then we had some major financial problems- some thought the world economy was on the brink of disaster- another depression. So we did bailouts- stimulus- things that were debated but cost lots of money. So in 2 years- what has happened to our credit card balance? It went up to 15 trillion. So it took hundreds of years to get to 5 trillion- 8 years under Bush to add another 5 trillion to the card, and then in 2 years we went up another 5 trillion. Too much- too fast. So what about the argument being made by some progressive news folks? The argument makes some sense. For instance all debt is not bad- lets change the above numbers to dollars- if you were making 3,500 a month, and your credit card balance was 15 thousand, and your expenses were 2,400- then in that scenario the debt would be okay- and it would be silly to take all your income to pay off the card- no- you need to use some for the car payment, the house payment- etc. That’s the argument being made right now from the left- but when the income is 2,400- the expenses 3,500- and you’re adding 1,100 to the credit card [actually every year- but you get the picture] then the debt problem is severe. So the truth is we have a big problem- yes it would be foolish to try and use all the income to pay off the card- but it’s also silly to say there’s really no problem [like some are now saying- Paul krugman from the N.Y. times espouses this idea and MSNBC has chosen to run with it]. So that’s why the congress is haggling over these Continuing Resolutions- basically extended the budget by 2 weeks at a time- cutting around 4 billion dollars every 2 weeks. In the long run they want to cut thisyears spending by 60 billion- some say that’s too much for one chunk. It would be like cutting the 3,500 a month spending [in the above scenario] to 3,440- really not that much in the big picture- because that hardly brings the long term debt down. So in my mind this is a real problem- and we as a country have not dealt with it yet. So that’s the scoop- is all debt bad debt? No. Is our current situation bad? Yes. Once again, this is a story that both sides like to tell- but they usually make their argument sound the best- while making the other side look like liars.
 THE NEW POLICE CHIEF?- Over the last few months I have read lots of news articles on the uptick in local arrests. Just read a story on the cars auctioned that were towed during the recent road blocks- the local police blockaded various roads in town and towed lots of vehicles- the owners did indeed violate the law- they had no insurance. Many of these violators are not ‘out right’ law breakers- like all the guys I have worked with thru our ministry [I’m the director of Corpus Christi Outreach Ministries] some are just mom and pop types who live week to week on their paycheck- yet they couldn’t afford the tow fee and fine- and they lost their vehicles. And the ‘straw’ that broke the camel’s back- yesterday I saw a story about the increase in arrests on the crime of auto theft- a very serious offense. They showed how over the last few years they have sent many ‘car thieves’ to prison- for many years. The story went on to explain how the local cops have taken advantage of a program where you use dummy cars- cars that are left with the keys in them- or with goods out in the open to see- and they catch unsuspecting ‘criminals’ and after they take the car [sometimes a college kid on a prank joy ride!] then the car shuts down- the doors lock- and everything is caught on video. Yes- another criminal sent to prison for many years. I have friends who have shot people dead. Stabbed and murdered people in cold blood. Some have already done prison time and are out. Some have simply gotten away with it [they didn’t confess- all the locals know ‘so and so killed so and so’ and they realize the cops are too busy with all these other projects]. O, I forgot- the reason the D.U.I. arrests are up- is because the new chief started stationing the patrol cars at the club parking lots on the weekends- yes- you can increase the D.U.I arrests by doing this- it’s really not that hard. The question has to be asked- is the new chief really cracking down on crime [like the guys who are actually getting away with murder- because the word on the street is ‘you can kill someone- just make sure you have proof of insurance’!] We need to ask the question, have we sent some stupid college spring break kids to prison- because they saw a car with the keys in it and took it [a prank- yes wrong- yet something I did myself 35 years ago- with an old buddy- in another state]. If we have all the cops spending their time doing these types of things- yet at the same time serious murders are not being solved- then there might be a real problem here. As a retired Firefighter- I know what it’s like when a new chief comes to town [whether fire or police]. They realize their job depends on the increase in arrests and so forth- so it’s obvious to me that this new chief has mastered the game. But is he just padding his resume? I have a tremendous problem with the entrapment game with the cars. If the cops are leaving vehicles all over the place- saying ‘go ahead- try it’ then you might simply be putting college pranksters in prison- sure they ‘did it’- but geez- people have killed people- for real- and the word on the street is- the cops are too busy towing grandpas vehicle [or grandmas!] and all the time others are getting away with murder.
NOTE- I have no personal knowledge/proof of unsolved murders. Some have simply not been prosecuted- they were arrested for murder- yet they never were prosecuted. Others have done time- and other cases are ‘word of mouth’ type things- yet the ‘feeling’ is these guys are getting away with murder. We have local cases of cars pulling up- in public during the day- to other vehicles and killing the driver. These cases are all going unsolved. If the police are unable to stop these types of crimes- or solve them- then are they really cracking down on crime by doing all these other things? That’s the question that needs to be asked.
 EXODUS 33- The Lord tells his people that they must get up from the place they are at- Mount Sinai- and move on to the new place he has promised to them- Canaan [the Promised Land]. Okay- symbolically what does this mean? Sinai represents law, promised land= the Cross, the ‘new land’ of grace and freedom found in Christ. In the New testament- this is the way all the apostles dealt with these promises [Hebrews, Galatians, Peter’s sermons in Acts]. It is vital for Christians [especially T.V. preachers!] to get this right. The message to the Muslim/Arab world is not ‘God is taking sides in a land war in Israel/Palestine’ but the message is ‘in Jesus, all nations/ethnic groups are welcome- leave Sinai [the old law mentality of seeing God thru the lens of a strict judge who wants to get you] and come to the ‘new land’ this land of grace where Jesus took upon him the sins of the whole world and bore the punishment for us’ this is really the message of Christianity- many people see Christianity/Christendom thru a 2 thousand year history [okay to do- I too am a historian] but they look at the mistakes- the Crusades- the Christian hatred of Jews that existed- the Muslim/Christian battles- many people do not really see the true message of the Cross- the new land of grace and acceptance thru Jesus- they are stuck at Sinai[a mountain that we already saw was fearful, people trembled- were scared- strict judgment] and can’t seem to get to the next mountain.
Also the Lord tells the people ‘take off your costume jewelry’ they wore the celebratory stuff- sort of like Mardi Gra stuff- when they sinned while worshipping their idols. God says ‘it’s not a performance- yourservice to me, your worship- take the fake stuff off’. In Matthews gospel- chapters 6-7,Jesus says ‘this thing is not theatre- how to perform and gain an audience’ I mean you can’t get stronger than that. Jesus also says ‘prayer is not mastering some type of formula to get what you want- create lots of wealth’ I mean he really takes to task the majority of AmericanChristianity- a huge percentage of it is really performance- seeing ‘church’ as a place where we go once a week and actually watch a stage/theatre performance- ouch! God told the people ‘get rid of the costume jewelry- I have more important stuff for you’. Right now there is a lot of stuff happening in the world- the voice of the church needs to be a voice for justice in the earth. I watched an interview on Fox news this weekend- the host described our wars as just- and the Muslim/Arab side as terrorism. I had just read a news article describing the accidental killings of the 9 Afghan boys who were gathering fire wood while our attack helicopters killed them. The boys were between 5 and 11 years old. One boy- the only survivor, named Hamed- said as they were in the field they heard the chopper coming. Of course it’s a scary sight for little boys. Then as the chopper left- it came back again- like stalking them. They stood still- until the first boy was mowed down. They ran in all different directions- the chopper methodically hunted the boys down- one by one. This boy survived because a tree fell on him and hid him. I know our side thought the boys were enemy combatants- I know we did not intend for this to happen. But to excuse our actions- to say ‘we are just’ and the other side- some who are simply fighting for the Taliban because they need the job- to say they are immoral- and we are moral- seems like a joke after hearing about the deaths of these boys. May God have mercy on all of us.
 EXODUS 34- This chapter is real important- God tells Moses to come back up into the mountain to receive the 2nd set of the 10 commandments. Moses actually broke the 1st set- when he came down from the mountain the 1st time with the 2 tablets- he saw the people rebelling [the story of worshipping the golden calf and all] and when he saw it he flipped out [yes- Moses had an anger problem- it eventually kept him from going into the promised land] and broke the tablets. So in this chapter he goes up for the 2nd time and God writes on the tablets again. I see this as a spiritual symbol of Jesus and the New Covenant. Jesus is called the mediator of the New Covenant- a 2ndcovenant that is better than the 1st [Hebrews] so this ‘2nd set’ of commandments can be a type of the 2nd law. Now Moses speaks to the people- and he doesn’t realize that his face is shining. So after he speaks with the people- he puts a veil on his face until he goes to meet with God again. Each time he meets with God- he comes back- talks with the people- and puts the veil on. In 2ndCorinthians chapter 3 the apostle Paul says this is an example of the blindness of natural Israel- that is they don’t fully see Jesus as the Messiah. As a Jew himself- Paul wanted his fellow Jews to also believe in the messiah [Romans 9-10] and he did all he could to argue for the reality of Jesus as being the Messiah [read the sermons in the book of Act’s] so Paul says the Jewish people [his own nation/people] have a sort of spiritual veil over their faces [actually it covers Moses face- a type of Jesus. Meaning Jesus is right there- in front of them, but they see a figure- but are unable to truly see his identity- sort of like a man wearing a veil]. So Paul uses this story to preach Christ. Just like the Manna, just like the Ark, the Tabernacle- as we read Exodus we are really seeing an unveiling of the person and work of Christ.
Okay- as we finish this short study over the next day or 2- let me also try and tie up a few lose ends. Those of you who have been reading this site for a while realize I was in the middle of a few other studies before I jumpedinto this series- which I will call ‘Insights from a Revolution’. The reason being the Asian/Persian world is on fire- Revolutions- civil wars [Libya] lots of stuff came up. I also finished the ChristopherHitchens book [god is not great- Hitchens is an atheist and I have been reproving him]. For the sake of not wanting to give him any more ‘air time’ than I had to- I stopped correcting his many mistakes [yes- Many!]. I plan on reviewing and critiquing the other ‘new atheists’ in the coming months- Hitchens is considered the smartest of the bunch [Dawkins, Harris, etc.] so I figured if we ‘throw him under the bus’ then we would have taken down the top dog. Let me finish Hitchens by saying the guy is outright mean- calls Mother Theresa ‘a troll’- refers to princess Dianna as a ‘land mine’ [she was known for her international work with getting rid of land mines]. Why? He says ‘there easy to lay- and cause lots of damage’. Hitchens is not a man that anyone should look up to. I felt he was a liar- conniver- snake oil salesman. One last example- he mentions the bible story of the graves of people opening up by an earthquake the day Jesus was crucified- the bible does indeed say this- I have read this many times over the years [in the gospel]. The bible says that AFTER Jesus rose from the dead [3 days later] that the bodies of believers who were in these open graves rose too- a sort of ‘first fruits’ resurrection. The apostle Paul says [1stCorinthians 15] that Jesusresurrection was the ‘first fruits’ you could include this small group of dead saints in with this group [called the 1st fruits]. These believers eventually died again- and will receive their new resurrected bodies at the 2ndcoming. Now- why get into this? Hitchens uses this story- and says ‘see- the bible says these saints rose before Jesus- the day he was crucified- this challenges the whole theory that Jesusrose from the dead 1st’. Now- like I said before- Hitchens claims to be a regular bible student- and its stuff like this that causes an alarm bell to go off in my head when I read it. The man is obviously lying- lying for money [a crass seller of books! You know- the same complaint atheists make all the time against believers, money grubbers]. And he uses this actual story- more than once- to prove a point- that is wrong!
There was something else that happened on the day Christ died. In the story of Exodus- when Moses builds the actual tabernacle- he puts this huge veil over a room called ‘the holy of holies’. The tabernacle [little church like structure that held the Ark and stuff] had 2 rooms in it- the 1st room- called the ‘1st room’ [Hebrews 9-10] or the holy place- had the table of showbread, the candlestick- a few other things. Then you had this huge veil covering the 2nd room-called the holy of holies. That’s the room that contained the box [ark] with the 10 commandments in it [I wrote about this in the previous post called ‘don’t look in the box!’]. This room was divided from the 1st room by the veil. So eventually King David would start building the temple- and his son Solomon would finish it. Over the centuries the temple took the place of the tabernacle system. In the temple of Jesus day- built by Herod- it was a magnificent structure- the central place of worship and religion for the Jewish people. In this huge temple there was actually a huge veil- a veil that divided the holy of holies from the 1st room- just like the original tabernacle built by Moses some 1400 years before. The day Jesusdied- the bible says ‘the veil of the temple was ripped from the top to the bottom’. God did a miracle [maybe the same earthquake that broke open the graves shook the building and it separated the veil?] and the veil was ripped apart- signifying the reality that because of Jesus death on the Cross we now have openaccess to God- no more veil. This event is recorded in the history books of Jesus day- Paul says there is coming a time when ‘the veil’ [spiritual blindness of people] will be removed- and people will say ‘wow- now I see it- I never saw it before- but now it makes sense’. Are you still wearing a veil?
 WISCONSIN- I’m just about to finish our short study in Exodus- will of course continue to comment on the protests going on in the world- but will probably do one more post on the Exodus thing. I am going to start a study on Islam- yes- we will be getting into areas that are confrontational, talking about the rise of radicalism- are all Muslims radical? Stuff like that. Today, Peter King- the rep. from N.Y. begins hearings on the subject. Some are calling him a modern day Joe McCarthy- others see him as a sort of hero. So we will be trying to teach what Muslims actually believe- and whether or not Islam even has one monolithic voice.
Okay- let’s see if we can discuss the current mood in the country and maybe try and mix it in with our Modernity study [yes- I still have that study to finish too]. Last night the governor of Wisconsin pulled a ‘fast one’. The state house has been in disarray for weeks- the Dems walked out- denying the quorum needed for the Repub’s to vote on the budget- and to ‘strip’ the workers of their ‘rights’. So after a few weeks of waiting, the Republicans did an end run and separated the Collective Bargaining language from the rest of the bill and passed it on a party line vote- 18 to 1. The fugitive Democrats [hiding out in Illinois] came racing back to the state and the protestors were ransacking the state house late last night. MSNBC reported that the governorsingle-handedly stripped the workers of 50 years of their rights. Rachel Maddow reported that the rights he took away- Collective Bargaining- had nothing to do with money or costs to the state- but they were only ‘workers rights’ [sort of like safe working conditions and stuff like that]. And the Right wingers reported it as a victory for the American taxpayer. Who’s right? Okay- my firefighter union brothers might get mad- but let me let you in on a secret. For 25 years I was involved with bargaining for our ‘rights’ [we never say we are bargaining for money- we always say ‘for the safety of the people’] over the years we mastered the procedure. Our contract with the city had ‘automatic overtime’ at one time we worked out a deal where the city had to pay us overtime- automatically- for every 2 out of 3 checks. It was a complicated change in state law that said employees working more than 40 hours a week had to get paid overtime.Well we worked 24 hours on- 48 off. We averaged 56 hours a week- and the 2 pay periods that racked up 120 hours on the time card gave us ‘automatic overtime’- one check would have 96 hours of pay- so we actually had to work a few hours at straight pay before we would even get overtime. Now- every so often a new commissioner would get elected- he would see this [as well as other deals we had made with previouscommissioners] and he would want to ‘correct it’. Go ahead- try your best buddy! We would send our team down to bargain [remember- we had collective bargaining] and the city would send their team. O yeah- we were bargaining with them to reduce overtime- and if ‘our team’ were on duty that day- well yes- we called in overtime to cover the shift because we were short handed- you know- bargaining with the city. Hey- this would drag on for months- years- heck it was getting us more overtime! Well, eventually the novice councilman would catch on- realize it was no skin off our back [or money from our pockets] and he would call it a day- smart man. We also ‘bargained’ for paid holidays- the way that worked was every year the city gave their employees 7 paid days off- you know, Christmas, new years- etc. So we of course had to work those days [1 shift out of 3 would always be on duty one of those days] so we got the city to pay us overtime for that day. Even though we weren’t actually working ‘overtime’ yet we bargained for it and they paid us. Now- when you work a 24 hour shift- getting overtime would add around 5-700 hundred extra- just for that day! You say ‘what a deal’ we’ll wait. We also bargained for ‘the right’ to sell back that same holiday- yes- even if you worked the day, got paid the overtime- you could still sell the day- and get another 24 hours of overtime- for the same day. Every now and then a city leader would catch on- see the deals that were made- and they would think ‘darn it- we must change this’ okay- lets go back to ‘the bargainingtable’ and O yea- more overtime!
Now- when RachelMaddow- or Michael Moore go on national T.V. – telling the world ‘these people are just trying to hold on to their rights’ we do indeed like that. Look- all deals are not like the ones I just showed you- but many times it’s stuff like this that the management has worked with for years [like Walker’s past dealings with negotiating] and they sincerely do want to get rid of bargaining- as well as ‘bust the union’. So you have both sides doing their best to portray it in the best possible light.
A few points to keep in mind. What Walker and the Repub’s did was really not the end of the world- to be fair. Some states do not have collective bargaining [Virginia]. The public sector workers in those states do just about as well as the sates with it. Just recently, president Obama ‘arbitrarily’ froze the pay of federal employees- how could he do that! The law does not allow federal workers to have collective bargaining- so Obama did what MSNBC calls dictatorial- one man rule- a Nazi! Yes- the president did not bargain for the freeze- something that would have never passed if the workers had collective bargaining- the president had the ‘right’ to freeze their pay- the same thing that Walker wants to do in Wisconsin- have the ability to ‘freeze pay’ without having to bargain with us- you know- the overtime kings! Now do you see a little more? Now- say if Walker stripped the whole sate of collective bargaining [like other states have done] say if he even outlawed unions! What would the public sector workers have left? Would they simply be like the average Joe in the private sector- basically if you don’t like the job- leave. No- we still have what’s called ‘Civil Service protection’ what? Yes- as a firefighter- even if I had no Union- no collective bargaining- the city still couldn’t just up and fire me- I could appeal to the Civil service commission and they would hold a hearing on my case and I would either win or lose. Now- in Wisconsin you have the Civil Service protections- you have the Unions- and you still have collective bargaining [even for those who just got stripped of it- they still retain a portion of it for wages]. To describe this as some sort of outrageous overthrow of the rights of people is a bit much- but heck- if the governors/leaders want a fight- by golly we will fight- to the end! O- and we might need some overtime to do it. [we’ll do the modernity thing later].
 I DID WHAT YOU ASKED- Today we close our brief study from Exodus ‘Insights from a Revolution’. In chapter 40 Moses finally completes the vision God gave him [vision- purpose] for the Tabernacle- he completes it 9 months after they arrived at Sinai [it took some time to establish order!] Just a short re-cap; when God delivered his people out of Egypt- he gave them this tent system where you had the Tabernacle [small building] you had this fence around it- you had the ‘outer courts’ and the area inside the courts. You had the Ark of the Testimony, the box that held the 10 commandments- a sample portion of Manna[the bread God gave them every morning for 40 years] and Aaron’s rod/stick that ‘budded’- a story we didn’tcover, it was a sign God gave the people that he was choosing the Aronic priesthood to be the priests. They took sticks from different tribes and the stick that would miraculously bud was the tribe that God chose. So you had this whole system set up as an example from God that would eventually be fulfilled thru Christ. This tent system became the Temple of Jewish history- and in Jesus day they had this system expanded on a huge scale at the Temple in Jerusalem. It’s sometimes referred to as the 2nd Temple- the one that was rebuilt after the children of Israel returned from captivity [a few hundred years B.C.]but it was rebuilt again- a 3rd time- under Herod, the Roman ruler who ruled right before Jesus was born [you also had another Herod- the title was passed on- during Jesus day]. This Temple was eventually destroyed under the Roman general- Titus- in a.d. 70. There has not been a Jewish temple since- the actual spot where the temple was- that spot is the same spot of this huge Muslim Mosque in the city of Jerusalem today. If you ever see an air view of Jerusalem you will see this huge mosque in the center of the city- that’s the same spot where the last Temple sat. So today there are lots of end times teachers with all types of views about the rebuilding of a 3rd [or 4th] Temple- scenarios of a re instituting of the sacrificial system- a view of a person called the anti Christ who will establish a covenant with Israel and 3.5 years into the 7 year peace treaty he breaks the treaty. All these scenarios are simply speculation- they do come from a sort of montage of verses scattered thru out the bible [Daniel, Matthew, Thessalonians, Revelation, etc.] but they are only one point of view- most bible scholars do not hold to this view- often referred to as dispensationalism- too long to get into it now. The main point I want to make is God used this whole system to show mankind that the only way he could dwell with man- was thru some sort of system that showed the sinfulness of man and the holiness of God- and that man can only approach God thru a sacrifice- the animals and blood were only a symbol of the future day when Jesus would come and die for the sins of the whole world [Hebrews- the book in the New Testament says this]. This whole story points to Jesus and Gods desire to redeem all mankind- regardless of ethnic/social status- to save men and rescue them thru the death and resurrection of His Son. Jesus truly is the sacrifice that saves man- he died for our sins. God gave Moses and the people this system of govt. that would follow them thru the rest of their history. Moses finished the work God gave him to do- and today this prophetic picture lives on in both the bible and on the Hollywood screen- most of us have seen some portrayal of it on the big screen [like CharltonHesston in the classic movie- the 10 commandments]. Some of you might have learned a new thing as we did this brief study- maybe the purpose of the lid on the box, the Mercy Seat. Maybe some other thing stuck in your mind- that’s good- we want everybody to get an interest in this stuff- most people think the bible is a book that is boring- hard to understand. Yet it’s meant to capture your mind thru stuff like this- to see that the bible stories are actual historical events- events that still have meaning for our day- and they all point to God’s mercy and love for all mankind- not a story where God is some Western deity who takes sides in military ventures- that’s not the message of the gospel. God has made a way for all people to get in on this- he’s not advocating a certain type of religion- he’s saying he has already given his Son to die for the whole world- Jesus said on the Cross ‘It is finished’ the book of Hebrews says Moses was faithful to finish building the earthly house [tabernacle] that God told him to build- he finished the job. Hebrews also says Jesus was faithful in his house- in completing the mission and in completing it he too is building a house- the house of God- the church. This ‘building’ is open to everyone 24 hours a day- a spiritual temple made without human hands. John the apostle said ‘whoever hears this- let him come and take of the water of life freely’ [Revelation] Have you heard?
 EARTHQUAKE- Of course you know by now that right off the coast of Japan there was a major earthquake- 8.9 on the Richter scale. The worst recorded one to ever hit Japan. The 5th largest on record [in at least the last 100 years] and the damage is great. As I watched the coverage- saw all the pictures of the devastation- my daughter just walked in the door. I told how big this event is- a major event- she saw the pictures and I did say we don’t know how bad all the damage is yet- and that the West coast is being hit by the wave right now. I guess she thought it was worse than I knew it to be, she said ‘well dad, is there anything we can do to survive it’? She is 19, and she was not kidding. I of course told her that the wave she was seeing was not going to hit us- but still she had some doubts. I guess it didn’t help when I got up to walk away- ‘where you going dad’ I’ll be sitting in the Kayak in the garage. Okay- how should we respond? Do these events mean anything? You bet they do. First- I’m not a ‘birther’ when it comes to end times stuff- I do not teach or believe many of the Armageddon scenarios that you see in the books and movies of prophecy preachers- yet I do very much believe the bible. What did Jesus say about this stuff? In Matthew 24 Jesus says there will be signs of the end of the ‘world’ [Greek word means age- a set period of time]. The signs would include wars and lawlessness. You would have people’s hearts failing them for fear- seeing all these things. And yes- there would be an increase in earthquakes and natural disasters. I have been saying for the last few months that I believe most people do not really see the seriousness of many present world situations- the unrest on the NorthAfrican continent- the very serious debt problem that plagued Europe [and still does] and the fact that other countries and even companies that rate debt risk [like Moody’s] have played with the idea that the U.S. govt. might lose its credit rating. Our debt- nearing 15 trillion- is a major risk for our economy- and if other countries begin to see us as a serious debt risk- we will indeed be in lots of trouble. Why is our govt. doing these 2 week extensions on our budget? Near the end of last year the President should have done a budget- at the time the Democrats held the House, Senate and executive branch [Like Chuck Schumer likes to say ‘all 3 branches of govt.’! Inside joke- on a Sunday talk show he did refer to these as the 3 branches of govt. obviously the 3 branches are Executive, Judicial and Legislative- not Executive, House and Senate]. The Dem’s did not do a budget. Why? It was the 1st time in years that one party controlled the Presidency, House and Senate- why not just do one? Every news person knew why- they did not want to have to face the voting public with just presenting a budget with/without cuts- they simply did not do their job- to be honest. Now, they just came off a tough health care vote- the House was also forced to vote on a disastrous ‘Energy’ bill- which thank God did not pass- especially with our present gas prices- and they felt like [They=Dem’s] they already took too many tough votes for Obama- and they did not want to do any more. So what happened? Well the Repub’s took control of the House [with a bunch of freshman Tea Partier’s] and the Dems held the Senate. Okay- will you pass one now? Actually- the best way to describe what happened is the line that Keith Olberman began running with before he quit his job at MSNBC- he immediately began saying ‘Okay Boehner- you guys are now in charge- where are the jobs’ yes- night after night this was the new message. One question- the Dem’s still held the Senate and the Executive branch- are you kidding me! But that is exactly the strategy that the President has run with- he indeed has chosen- along with the Dem’s in the Senate- to leave the cuts up to the Repub’s. They were obviously told by the insiders ‘look- we know we really need to address the debt problem- butlets ignore the thing- give no serious cut proposals- and the new Tea Party nut jobs will force the more moderate Repub’s to bite the bullet for us- and we will eventually vote for it- like our hands were tied behind our backs- and they will get the blame’. Now- will this strategy work? Probably to a degree- but the fact is it really is a total failure on the part of the president and the Dem’s- they should have passed a budget last year. Now we are in the new year- and some are saying ‘well Repub’s- the ball is in your court’. They are still the majority for heaven’s sake- present something with at least 30 billion dollars of cuts [which would be half of what the Repub’s are offering in cuts]and be serious about it. Even Joe Manchin- the new Dem. Senator has said this is exactly what the president is doing- he purposely is not presenting a real proposal [ any proposal!] and at the same time is taking the attitude of Olberman ‘you guys are in charge-you do it’. This is bad- very bad. So anyway I see all the events taking place in the world- the continued unrest with the protests [called lawlessness by Jesus in the above chapter] the earthquakes and wars and economic unrest- and in the midst of it all Jesus also said ‘when you see all this taking place- all these signs- don’t get too worried- for all these things must come to pass’. As believers we go thru stuff- the world shakes and ‘tribulates’ the Tea Bags are selling like Hot Cakes- yet we trust in God. We pray for the Japanese [it really is such a tragedy- of course their country has already experienced the worst radiation fallout in world history- thanks to the good old U.S. of A. and they are in danger of another one with their Nuclear Reactors cooling problems] and we know that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken- we are part of the great Kingdom of God- one that will endure for eternity [even if you get tempted every now and then to go sit in the Kayak in the garage].
 JAPAN- As of last night, the disaster in Japan is far greater than originally thought. The building surrounding the nuclear reactor blew up in dramatic fashion- the leaders were claiming that the steel casing around the reactor was intact. It seems like the leaders might be covering something up- or maybe they don’t know everything that’s going on inside. The death toll is sure to climb, though they talk about the numbers as in the hundreds- or right around 1800 hundred, yet they say ‘9,000’ are missing [which means swept out to sea]. Now- what does all this mean? The U.S. economy [and govt.] rely heavily on 2 nations that serve as our ‘bank’. Japan used to be our number one borrower- they bought our debt. China just recently surpassed Japan as our number one buyer of debt. So Japan is our 2nd biggest ‘bank’[both nations hold right around 900 billion of U.S. debt- other nations also hold our debt- own our credit cards- yet Japan and China are our biggest banks].Okay- this past year we have made trips to the region- have had our debates over fiscal policy [with China] and we have done our best to keep a fairly good relationship going [even willing to overlook real human rights abuses- with China] in order to keep the cash flowing. So what now? Well look at it as if your number 2 credit card co. just went under- that’s what has happened. Japan is in no position to keep buying our debt- and they will not be in that position again for a long time. Now Japan too is in debt- but most of their debt has been bought by private investors who are Japanese- they are not dependant like us on a foreign nation [s]. So we just lost a very important bank. It’s not the end of the world for us- but not good at a time when we thought we were going to really come out of this recessionary stagnation- our country actually showed some good financial signs in recent weeks- yet this confluence of events [Arab unrest, Revolts, Libya- earthquakes, etc.] is sure to put a hold on any real strong economic growth. Now- the president gave a speech the other day-and surprisingly his number one concern was to convince the public that he is not at fault for high gas/oil prices. It was very strange for him to have focused so much on not wanting the blame. He gave some numbers- all in all he was not being totally honest with us. There are presidents who are ‘pro big oil’ [Bush] and others who simply are not. It’s not to say the more environmentally minded presidents are bad [Teddy Roosevelt did a great thing by preserving our natural habitat] but it’s deceiving to be on the less ‘big oil’ side- and then say you are one of the biggestproponents of big oil to ever be on the scene. Overall our country currently produces 7 millionbarrels of oil a day. We use around 20 million barrels daily. So we import the difference. Our country used to produce 10-11 million barrels a day- do the math- it’s not hard to figure this thing out. Now- why did oil prices drop recently? Japan is the 3rd biggest economy in the world [behind theU.S. and China]. The facts on the ground are Japan will not be using the large amounts of oil that they were expected to use- because they obviously will be struggling for quite some time to get back up and running again. So the demand for oil on the world market has just gone down. Overall this Japan disaster will affect the global economy in a much greater way than the unrest in Libya- Libya is important mainly because they produce oil- but their overall economy is in shambles- and has been for years. Japan is/was an economic powerhouse- a major player on the world stage. For them to have suffered such a ,major disaster- this is really devastating- if you add up all the things going on in the word right now- we haven’t been this ‘shaky’ in years- probably since the world wars. I’m not saying that will happen- I’m saying we have not seen this type of global upheaval since that time. Yes other events have happened that were big- Vietnam- 911- etc. But the totality of recent events is huge. Pray for the Japanese people- pray for Libya [Gadhafi is taking advantage of the worlds eyes being on Japan] and put your trust in God- there are many in the media who are not being upfront about the real dangers we are now facing- they do not want to cause people to panic- yet anyone who follows the events realizes we are in a very dangerous time- don’t fear- but recognize the time we are in.
 TO BE HONEST- IT IS STRANGE TO BE HERE AGAIN- A few weeks ago I wrote a few posts on the ‘end of the world’ and the strange events of fish deaths and bird kills and things that seemed to be signs of the end of the world. Of course since that time many events have really unraveled and some of them are really big! So let’s talk a little. In Revelation chapter 8 we read about the plagues that will come upon the earth when God’s judgment is being released. I also spoke about Jesus words in Matthews’s gospel the other day. Do all these passages primarily speak of a future judgment? Not necessarily- though you can most certainly apply it that way. There are various views of interpretation that bible students use when reading these types of passages [types= apocalyptic- a certain genre of writing]. Some view the events through an historical view- others are what you would call Futurist- and some are a mix between the 2 [basically my own view]. I do think more people need to become familiar with the historical view a bit more. For instance many bible/history students have shown how many of the signs that Jesus gave about the ‘end of the world/age’ were fulfilled at the time of the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70. It’s a bit much to cover it all here- but there are actual historical reports of people having seen visions of chariots of fire in the sky at the time of the incident- things that most certainly could fit into the signs in the sky imagery used in this type of writing. Okay- in Revelation chapter 8John writes about the vision of these 7 angels blowing 7 trumpets- these trumpets are 7 judgments from God. The first 4 are spoken about in chapter 8. They begin with natural disasters- fish dying and stuff like that. Have we seen these things recently? Yes- as matter of fact right before the earthquake there was another story of a bunch of fish dying off the west coast- I remember it because they looked like a sea of dead anchovies- once again there was really no explanation. So in this chapter we see this sign as a judgment from God.When you get to the 3rd angel blowing his trumpet- there is a star that falls from heaven and it lands in the sea and causes the waters to become bitter [poisonous]. You also see an angel take a censor filled with incense and he casts it violently into the earth. The censor represents the prayers of Gods people- those who have been crying out for justice for centuries- and when the censor hits the ground there are flashes of lightning and thunder and yes- an earthquake. So all these images do speak about Gods judgmentbeing manifest in the earth. One of the reports I heard about the Japanese earthquake was that the sea floor was examined and found to have a 150 mile long crack- 50 miles wide. That’s no minor event my friends. The earth has actually shifted off its axis and Japan has moved over around 8 feet [of course Japan is group of Islands]. The bible speaks about the ground/earth in a way that we are not familiar with in the 21st century. It speaks about the ground as being given to man by God- man is a caretaker of the things that transpire on the earth. When Cain killed his brother Abel [Genesis 4] the bible says the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground- the book of Revelation speaks about all the blood of the martyrs [and innocents- like abortion] crying out to God for vengeance. In a strange way God hears the ‘testimony’ of the innocent victims- it cries out to him from the ground. The new testament says the Blood of Jesus also ‘speaks’ [Hebrews] it says his Blood does not cry out for vengeance [like Abel’s] but it ‘speaks better things that that of Abel’s’ blood. The Blood of Christ- shed on the Cross- says ‘God forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing’.Jesus’ blood offers forgiveness to mankind. As we see the shaking in the earth today- the huge crack in the foundation- it is a sign of pent up injustices- innocent victims who have been killed and brutalized for many years- Despots who have gotten away with murder- literally. Christians/innocents who have cried out to God for centuries. We are truly living in a unique time- many events converging at one time- let the Blood of Christ speak for you- the Blood that says ‘I forgive you’ if not- we will all be left standing with only the blood of innocents crying out for vengeance from the ground- the ground that has a fifty mile crack in it.
 ARE THE JAPANESE DISPROVING FREUD? One of the narratives coming from the Japan disaster is the response of the Japanese people. In contrast to our Katrina tragedy the Japanese are very self reliant. Jack Cafferty [CNN] read an email from some elderly lady who contrasted the 2 responses. She called the Louisiana residents who looted, killed, complained and wined- she said ‘those scumbags’ [ouch!] What are we seeing in the Japanese people? The media are referring to them as Stoic’s- the philosophy [ancient Greek- one of only 2 philosophies mentioned by name in the bible- Acts chapter 17 mentions the Stoic’s and Epicureanism] that said the secret to life is living on an even plane. Don’t get too ‘up’ or too down- just ride the wave of life as moderately as you can. The other side of the coin is Hedonism- the philosophy of men like Freud- who taught that the problem with man is that he is taught to restrain himself [by religion] and that this restraint is itself a product of neurosis. Freud was a strange fellow, the father of modern Psychoanalysis; his ideas were actually quite weird. As a Jew [non practicing] he embraced the higher criticism of his day [a way of interpreting the bible as not being actually true- just good stories] and he sought to come up with an explanation for mans religious bent. So he came up with the idea of the Oedipal Complex- a strange view of man that said the real problems of man are they have this view of love and hate for the father figure- and the ‘real’ story of Moses and the children of Israel was the Jews killed Moses in the wilderness [hatred for the father figure] they then felt guilty about it- and out of this guilt they would eventually develop a ‘religion of the Son’ [Christianity] and Walla- that’s the real story. You would be surprised how many people hear silly stuff like this in life [or college!] and they never give it a second thought. Like Pope Benedict says in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ [1st book of a trilogy on the life of Christ] he mentions the theories of the critics [men like Bultmann] and he then responds ‘and how do you know this’?Bultmann [one of the famous liberal theologians of the day] would come up with ideas like this- and he would just espouse them. The funny thing about these critics was they were trying to challenge the historical accuracy of the bible- are the gospels true- stuff like that. And in their challenge they would ‘make up’ their own stuff [Oedipal complex] and simply expect everyone to believe it. So Freud taught that we need to free man from this neurosis of religion- this thing in society that says ‘restrain yourself’ and if we teach man to do and be all that he feels like doing- then we will have healed him of this destructive religious belief that developed out of a secret love/hate relationship of father. Wow. I can think of no greater philosophy to not live your life by than that. How did the Freudian experiment turn out? It was/is a disaster- I’m not just saying this as a Christian who rejects Freud’s atheism- but many of his ideas have also been roundly rejected by the psychologists of the modern day. Freud actually taught that when you counsel a person [yes- he was the originator of the idea of the patient lying on the couch while the counselor listens] that the patient is ‘transmitting’ psychic energy from himself to the doctor- and that’s what makes him better. Freud wrote Moses and Monotheism [his fictional account of the origins of Judaism/Christianity] Totem and Taboo- the fictional idea of the primitive religion of man- and Civilization and it’s Discontents, his explanation of the conflict between mans psychic life and the demands of society. The basic view of Freud [Hedonism] is a failed system that does not work in the real world. To live your life based on the philosophy of ‘if it feels good- do it’ does not work in any area of life- for the long term. In food, shopping, family life, marriage, sexual expression- the basic principle of self restraint and discipline [the Japanese response] is in great contrast to the ‘unrestrained’ view of life [as seen in some of the Katrina response- many of the looters and rioters were raised with a welfare mentality- they were dependant on the state/govt. to do things for them. When things went bad- they blamed the govt. for it]. In the end of the day- the society that practices self discipline- that teaches their children to be self reliant- those are the ones who have the most successful lives. Those who practice Hedonism blame stuff on everyone else.
 CHRIST CHURCH? A few weeks back I was going to write a post from the words of St. Peter found in the New Testament ‘The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God [Christ’s church= house of God] and if it starts there- what will the outcome be for the rest of the world?’ [paraphrased it]. Right after the ‘thought’ the major events off the coast of Japan hit and we have this trilogy of disasters to deal with [Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown]. I did find it ‘strange’ that the recent events started with Christ Church New Zealand- and seemed to spread from there. I heard a Geologist the other night- he had previously predicted the earthquake that hit Ca. during the World Series a few years ago. He said the sign of the dead fish recently washing up in Ca. was not a coincidence- he said the fish can sense a change in the earth’s magnetic field [prior to an earthquake] and that in Japan these fish kills are actually called ‘earthquake fish’. Wow. You do hear lots of talking heads during these types of events- yet it would be nice to know the truth on these types of things. The last year or 2 we had earthquakes along the Pacific Rim; Chile, New Zealand and of course Japan. If you look on a map you see the Pacific Ocean and you can draw a circle around the perimeter- the part that affects us is the West coast- so they already have a run on Iodide pills [fear of the radiation crossing the Pacific from Japan] and some are predicting an earthquake. The other night I caught a quick news flash of Saudi Arabia sending troops into Bahrain to fight back against the protestors- as it flashed by quickly- I said ‘geez- this is a major event- and it’s getting lost in the media frenzy’. Then O’Reilly spent 15 minutes on a real important life changing story- a stripper who works with a snake- the snake bit the woman on her breast- the snake died from the silicone from the breast implant. Another news show spent almost the whole hour on sports- even the president did another March madness prediction- at a time when the world has protestors in the streets- who thought we would help them [Libya] and they are actually saying ‘Obama- where are you- where’s Bush?’ Now- whatever your view is on intervening [no fly zone- etc.] the fact is if the feeling around the globe is that we are not taking these things seriously enough- then the image of the president doing March Madness picks does not look good. So what do we make of it all? When Peter said ‘judgment must 1st start at Gods house’ he of course was not directly talking about the city of Christ Church, New Zealand. Yet in a prophetic sort of way- these types of things can be signs of what’s to come. One of the important developments has been the fact that the Arab/Persian nations have indeed chosen to ignore the pleas from the U.S. to go easy on the protestors- and they simply have said ‘screw you- look at what you did to Egypt- we are gonna go the Gadhafi route’ [to a degree]. Saudi Arabia crossing into Bahrain- a small Persian Gulf nation where we have lot of troops stationed [and the 5th fleet docked] is a major development. The markets [both Asian and U.S.] have fallen over the fears that the Nuke disaster is already as bad as Chernobyl- and the unrest in the Middle East and Africa is not getting better. So we pray- we show the world that we don’t just throw our hands up and say ‘the end of the world is here’ but we also recognize it is in mans nature to deny the reality of judgment- the reality that mankind faces times where things build up and the planet suffers for it. In the 19th century there was a movement in Christian theology called ‘Liberal theology’- not liberal in politics- but a whole genre of teaching/thought that challenged a lot of the ‘old time’ beliefs [like original sin] and focused on the ability of modern man to rise above the ignorance of the past [even in religious thought] and man was on the road to a true Utopian society that would never fail. This belief was strong- both in the universities ofGermany as well as in the politics of the Western world. Then you had the world wars- 8 million people killed in the first one- and 50 million in the 2nd one. Men like Karl Barth [a Swiss theologian- teacher] would challenge the liberal view of mans ‘inner divinity’ and he would blast the Christian world with his famous ‘the epistle to the Romans’ his commentary on Paul’s famous treatise- released in 1918. Though Barth is what some describe as ‘Neo- Orthodox’ [the strong Reformed teachers don’t appreciate Barth very much] yet he did bring the church back to the biblical doctrines of original sin and mans inability to ‘save himself’. Barth saw the reality of the WW1 and rejected the Utopian belief that man was so advanced that he would reach for the sky- and grab it! Today we see lots of shaking in the world- some are focused on March madness- some find it profitable to do a story on a stripper- we need to keep our eyes [and bibles] open- mankind is in need of God- man has gone thru stages where he thought the ‘old belief’ in God would fall away- to the contrary- the govt’s of man [apart from God] seem to be the thing that’s falling away.
 GREASEBALL! Okay- to all my Italian buddies- this one’s for you! [Greaseball is a slang term for us Italians]. Yesterday the U.N. approved action against Libya- 10 nations voted for the ‘no fly zone’ [and more] and 5 abstained [Obama’s favorite position when Illinois senator]. Yes, Russia and China did not vote no- a surprise. The Libyan Rebels rejoiced- hooray- the West is coming! Not so fast. Obama gave a speech ‘Gadhafi must step down- or else!’ and yet again he slaughters the folks- and it actually seems like he stepped up the slaughter- after all Obama said ‘you better not’. And then- in the same speech mind you- he also said the U.S. will not be putting in troops- or heading up the no fly zone. It’s utterly amazing that a U.S. president continues to give very public ultimatums- and then states the reality that he will not act. As the reports came in from the streets of Libya- they said ‘he is still killingcivilians’. Now- if we as a nation are already too stretched because of two 10 year wars in Muslim countries- and if our official policy is ‘we can’t afford to keep doing these types of ventures at the sole expense of U.S. blood and money’ [a position that does make lots of sense by the way] If that’s going to be our ‘default’ setting- then we can’t be making public statements and saying ‘if you don’t stop now- there will be consequences’- both of these things at the same time are actually worse. It makes the dictator think ‘geez- better kill em while I still have the chance’ and the statement from the president still awaits another meeting [in Paris today] to set up the actual logistics of the plan. It’s just simply too late to still be making ‘long range plans’ and at the same time publicly saying ‘no more chances’.
Okay- When I was a boy growing up in Jersey I had a bunch of good old Italian buddies- and my family was 100% liberal Democrat- I mean my grandfather bought into the line that the U.S. was the most dangerous nation on the planet. So one day he’s down the block talking to some Italian neighbor- they must have been talking politics. I heard gramps raise his voice. So when he gets back to the house we ask ‘what were you talking to Mr. so and so about? Answer- ‘that f—ingGreaseball’. WHAT? I mean grandpa was a Greaseball too- we were/are all Greaseballs! Right now in the newsonce again you have the left and the right running with their agenda’s and the truth usually gets lost in between. The other night I watched Chris Matthews defend the president- he went on to deride Huckabee, Palin, Newt, etc. he said how their framing of the president was all wrong- That they say he has liberal ‘anti colonial’ instincts- that they paint him as something other than a classic American boy- raised with basketball and hot dogs and the rest. Then Matthews launched into a familiar rant- he said something to the effect of ‘what do you right wing, racist, tea party bastards want? He has done everything you asked for- he has grown up and been a responsible black man- he has a wife and kids and doesn’t sell coke- you know- he has lived up to the white man’s requirements’. Now- I have heard Matthews say this before- he actually looks like he’s gonna pull a Boehner when he does this [cry]. What he doesn’trealize- is he thinks he is on the side of the minority when he says this- sort of like the classic liberal defense of ‘the back man’ yet to the black man- this is actually quite racist. It plays into the stereotypes of racism- to say ‘he has lived up to our expectations- what we want from the Black man’ yes- he sounds just like grandpa calling his fellow Italian a Greaseball- the classic inability of the liberal minded ‘non bigoted’ person- who reveals his bigotry in ways that he does not fully realize.
When working at the Fire Dept. over the years- It was actually a Texas joke to see how the North East [MSNBC crowd] thinks about Texas as ‘Cowboy country’. I was sitting in the station one day with my captain [a died in the wool Democrat- liberal among liberals- he was also my union president] and the secretary rings the office- ‘it’s Cheney’s people on the line’ every year or so Dick Cheney [and also Bush one and 2] would come to an area where we worked and they would hunt bird [Quail, Dove] so they would set up our ambulance guys to station themselves right at the gate of the ranch just in case Cheney shot another one of his buddies. So I’d laugh ‘hey Cap- the V.P. wants to talk’ and he would respond with some vulgar word. So the real scoop is here in Texas we have a whole world of lib’s- my V.P. [union] was also a lifelong Democrat- openly gay- would travel to Austin a lot [an ultra liberal haven] and he would laugh at the Chris Matthews types who fall for the ‘guns and cowboy hats’ image of Texas. Yes- Matthews had Tom Delay on the other day- asked him about some Texas stuff- and tried to be nice- and said ‘well I know that’s the way you Texans are- carrying your 6-guns and all’ yes- he fits in well with the classic liberal mindset- thinks he’s real progressive- liberal- and the rest of the liberals in Texas think you’re a jack ass.
I actually had friends that would don the cowboy hat during spring break- why? They would ‘pick up’ girls visiting for the break-and some of them would say ‘wow- a real cowboy- I heard about people like you [probably watches MSNBC] but I never thought I would meet one’ well honey- you didn’t! So when we are trying to get to the real story- we need non biased journalists to tell it- you can’t get it from the left or the right alone. A few weeks ago a major London newspaper ran the entire speech given by Gadhafi after Obama was elected- in the speech he openly praised Obama as ‘one of us’ he said how the U.S. is now being lead by someone ‘like us’. Now- is Gadhafi falling for the propaganda of Beck? Come on- how about the London paper- are they Fox sycophants? Obama does have a history of liberal political allies that date back to his days in Chicago[fine]and in that circle- which included Rev. Wright and Louis Farrakhan- they made some trips to Libya and began having close ties to the Libyan leader. Now- did they have ties like this with the leaders of Egypt- or Yemen- or any other Arab/Persian nation? No. But because of the politicalatmosphere at the time- Gadhafi made it into the circle. Now- for the left wing media to not even mention it- or when they do mention it- to portray it as a Fox conspiracy- well that’s classic liberal ignorance. Yes- admit the fact of the thing- and then report on whether or not you think it means anything [I personally don’t- I don’t think he has made policy decisions based on this past affiliation- but geez- to simply ignore the thing is not journalism!] So as we watch events unfold- there obviously has been some major mistakes made. Whether you support the president or not- mistakes are being made—that cost lives. And if you present yourself as this wonderfully open- non biased liberal person- you know- not like the Texas gun toters- than don’t go down the block and call the Italian guy a Greaseball!
 WE ARE IN- As you know the U.S. and our allies have begun enforcing the ‘no fly zone’- in actuality the stated mission is more than a no fly zone, it’s a mission that is too open ended- basically it says we can do anything we need to do to protect the civilian population of Libya- geez- too broad. Now- is this the same type of resolution that Bush had for his 2 wars? No- president Obama has NO resolution from the congress- nada. He’s operating under U.N. and Arab league language- kind of a problem- don’t you think? I heard a major news person say Obama is operating the same way Bush did- without congressional approval. The news broadcaster explained that Bush did not go to congress for Afghanistan or Iraq. Actually Bush went to congress in 2001 for Afghanistan- and 2002 for Iraq. Though the internal debate [now made public] was that the president did not need to go to congress- yet they did anyway. Those defending Obama’s recent action say ‘yeah- but Clinton didn’t get congressional approval for Kosovo- Serbia’ true. Either way- we are there now. If you go back and read my posts on Libya- I was not a hawk on the matter- someone who advocated U.S. military action. But I felt some of the statements from the president [Gadhafi must go] kinda put us on the hook to do something. Though the defense secretary did not want to engage in another Muslim country [not Arab!] yet it seems as if the secretary of state changed her view and Obama decided for limited action. The U.S. will do the early work- and do a quick hand off to France [Britain]. The problem is we never seem to be able to do the darn handoffs! So let’s pray and try and do our best.
As I mentioned above- the media often simply report stuff wrong. It does not help that most of us hold a view of that part of the world thru what we see/hear in the media- a media that gets stuff wrong [not just Fox]. The majority of Arab people are indeed Muslim- but that makes up only 20 % of the entire Muslim world. The most populous Muslim states range from North Africa to Southeast Asia- Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion- and the world’s 2nd largest [around 1.2 billion followers]. Islam also holds huge minority followings in the Western world [Europe and the U.S.]. Most Americans associate Islam with radical Islam- though most of today’sterrorists have come from the radical sect of Islam- all Muslims are not radicals. There is an internal debate in Islam on how to deal with modernity- some scholars teach that true Islam is Patriarchal in nature and the role of women is subordinate. These hold to the idea that a true Islamic adherent seeks for a true Islamic state- ruled by Sharia law. Others believe in a type of separation of Mosque and state- they hold to the view that Islam’s survival depends on itsability to ‘liberalize’ and adjust- like Christianity has done thru the centuries [most Christians are not seeking a theocratic state- though at one time the world was literally governed by the church]. Islam was founded in the 7th century under the prophet Muhammad, and within a hundred years after his death spread into a vast empire [under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires]. Islam also has a sect within her that could kind of be described as Mystical- that is like the Christian Mystics of church history. This branch is called Sufism. So you could say the 2 great institutions of Islam are Islamic law [Sharia] and Sufism [the mystical expression that seeks a more romanticized experience with God- like ChristianPietism].
As an avid boxing fan- I was watching a fight one night- and the official bell ringer ‘rung’ the bell after only 2minutes into the round [rounds are 3 minutes]. At first the ringside announcers- who are not paying attention to the clock- picked it up by simply feeling like the round was short. Sure enough during the break they were told the bell ringer- whose sole job is to ring the bell- messed up. As I watch the coverage unfold over the next weeks/months- and yes- years- I want to try and do my best to stick with the facts as much as possible. I understand it’s not easy to keep all the facts straight [the official bell ringers do at times mess up] and the distinction between the Arab/Muslim world is at times hard to see- I’m sure we will hear lots of reports confusing the 2- but being we are living in a real dangerous time- a time of change thru out the world that we cannot stop [I didn’t even mention the recent events in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia- major events- Yemen ‘snipers’ killed 50 protestor in cold blood- shot in the head/neck. Bahrain cracked down brutally on her protestors- and Syria is beginning to see more of an uprising]. So as we become more familiar with this part of the world- we want to get our facts as straight as possible. In this post I’m just beginning to cover Islam as a religion- over the coming months I want to do some postsstrictly on the actual history of Islam- what Islambelieves and teaches- and what Islam does not teach. The purpose is not to give a defense to the religion- but to inform each other about a religion that most westerners see only thru a lens of radicalism- thru news reports that fixate on the extreme elements of Islam. Part of our responsibility in the West is to know the subject/people we are dealing with- and for today one of the facts that should help form the coming posts is all Muslims are not Arabs- and all Arabs are not Muslim- the majority of nations that are ‘majority’ Muslim [around 53] are indeed African and Asian. And the latest one that we just engaged in- militarily- is smack dab in the middle of the North African rim that has been on fire- first to its left in Tunisia- and then to its right with Egypt- and we are ‘stuck in the middle with you’.
 PILLARS 1-2.
As the Libya story unfolds- you have some sincere critics of the president [Dick Lugar] and others who just want to find fault. Now- one of the debates going on is who will eventually take over the command of the ‘no fly zone’ [war]. The Arab league- though initially in support of the action, has since said what they signed up for [protect innocent civilians] is not what happened [bombing the country]. Vladimir Putin [Russian P.M.] said ‘it’s a crusade’ Yikes! The Russian president [who I thought was supposed to be a puppet] Medvedev rebuked the words publicly. Before we hit Libya- I started asking a few questions- things like ‘look- I know the leader seems like a nut, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to his charge that the Rebels are Al Qaeda’. Sure enough there have been lots of reports that do say the radical element in these protests are larger than what we saw in the other nations [Tunisia, Egypt]. Richard Engel- a top NBC [NOT FOX!] reporter said that 1 in 5 of the rebels are fighting because they want to kill Gadhafi ‘the Jew’. So as we debate when/where the U.S. should take action- we need to also keep in mind that the alternatives to the toppling of leaders might be just as bad- or worse- than the actual leader. Okay- why was the word ‘crusade’ so charged? It plays into the world history of the western nations fighting against the Muslim world. Many in the Arab league are not comfortable with NATO taking charge because of this history. The last few weeks the song ‘from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli’ have gone thru my mind. I remember the old Abbot and Costello shows on the foreign legion and stuff like that. What war is the song describing? It speaks about the wars that the U.S. engaged in- yes- with Libya- many years ago. After the American colonies broke away from England we continued to conduct world trade by the use of ships. At one point [1800’s] the Mediterranean became a flash point [like today] you had pirates and countries who retaliated by disrupting the water ways. America of course fought back- and the Libyans were actually called ‘the Mujahedeen’ yes- the same term used for the Rebels who we supported in toppling the Russian influence in Afghanistan. These were the Barbary wars- BarbaryCoast. So- we need to be careful that our actions don’t play into the idea that the U.S. is actually waging a 21stcentury crusade [this is also why it was unbelievable that Bush actually used the term crusade during his term].
Okay- let me do a little more on Islam [the teaching series I started in the last post]. Islam has 5 Pillars- basic tenets that all Muslims hold to;
1- The declaration of their faith ‘There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. To become a Muslim- one simply has to accept/confess this statement. Muslims believe that the final/complete revelation of God to man has come thru the prophet- by way of the Quran. As Christians accept Jesus as God’s final prophet/Messiah to mankind- so Muslims see Muhammad as the final and complete authority.
2- The second Pillar isSalat [prayer]. Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca- the holy city where the Kabba is [Kabba- the house of God believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael]. Once a week on Friday Muslims pray corporately at noon in the local mosque or Islamic center.
The next few days I’ll try and cover the other 3 pillars- I actually think the 3rd pillar is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the bible than what most Christians practice- it deals with the Muslim practice of giving to meet the needs of the poor. For today that should cover it- remember- the reason we are covering Islam as a religion is so we can have a better grasp on what Muslims believe. Too many of us are only familiar with the more radical elements that the media focus on when an attack takes place. At the same time there are also prejudices in Islam as well- many young Muslims are taught a radical hatred for the Jew- these wrong ideas are formed in their minds as young people-and they too need to reject these anti- Semitic ideas. As the U.S. begins engaging in the 3rd Muslim country in the last 11 years- we need to be very careful that we are not playing into the hands of those who embrace radicalism- there is a very real extreme element in Libya. Al Qaeda has operated out of the nation for many years- we need to be careful that we are not being ‘useful idiots’.
 CATHOLIC VERSUS MORMON AND OTHER STUFF. Okay- as an avid news watcher, these last few weeks we have seen a sort of shift in the Liberal versus Conservative media. Lawrence O’Donnell [MSNBC] has decided to deride Beck [FOX] on the air. Now- O’Donnell is smart- he does realize that the ratings for MSNBC are truly dismal- so he’s trying to get Beck to engage so he can get some free advertising. Of course the classic way of getting better ratings has been abandoned by MSNBC years ago [you know- the old ‘unbiased reporting of news’ scheme]. So anyway Beck has gone for the bait a few times and O’Donnell keeps casting out the line. First- O’Donnell is Catholic and Beck is Mormon- and Lawrence is using this as a hook. He is also taking it upon himself to ‘instruct’ his audience in Catholic doctrine. Now- I like these guys [well not really] but as an outside observer let me try and help some of the viewers a bit. Lawrence- as a ‘good’ [let’s say well meaning] Catholic does not speak for his church- that is as a Protestant believer- I have studied lots of Catholic history and Doctrine- and I consider the Catholic Church part of the broader Body of Christ- and the facts are- Lawrence does not know ‘the facts’. He challenged Beck on some recent end times musings- he says the majority of Catholics have modernized and don’t believe the ‘old stuff’ anymore; burningwitches, putting kids to death for cursing their parents,antihomosexual relationships- Lawrence says the church has advanced and Catholics really don’t believe the old stuff anymore. Now- Doctrinally the church has rejected many of these Old Testament commandments [burning witches] just like most Protestant denominations. Yet the church does not ‘not believe’ the book of Revelation anymore, which is what he lumped it all in with. The official teaching of the church- dating back to the 16th century Council of Trent [you know- little details that I like to refer to as facts] is that the bible is- quote ‘the words that the Holy Spirit dictated’. Now- the language used at Trent was so strong- that the church actually holds to a less literal belief than what the words imply. Most believers do not believe in the idea of a mechanical inspiration of the bible- that is that God actually spoke all the words of the bible to the authors [with the exception of portions of scripture that do record God speaking- 10 commandments, etc.] So, the official teaching of the Church- set down at Trent- is the bible is the ‘word of God’. Yes indeed, the Catholic Church still believes in the book of Revelation. Now- Lawrence says ‘well- not literally’ and he quoted a verse or 2 about Dragons pouring out water from their mouth and the woman fleeing and… well- I’m familiar with the verse- and it is symbolic. I don’t know of anyone- including Beck- that takes this verse ‘literally’. Now- Does Lawrence even know what ‘literal’ means? When Christians use the term ‘taking the bible literally’ this term does not mean that all the verses in the bible are actually literal. For instance the book of Psalms says ‘the hills skipped and danced for joy’ the verse from Revelation that I just mentioned is prophetic language. You have figures of speech also used- the apostle John says ‘there are many other works that Jesus did that are not recorded in this book [John’s gospel] and I suppose if all the works were written down that all the world could not contain the books that would be written’ now- should we read this language ‘literally’ or was John using a common figure of speech to make a point? When the bible uses poetry, prophecy, symbol, etc.. when these passages are read- taking them literally means reading them in context. So when you read about dragons- or hills jumping for joy, or other portions like that- well they are meant to be read in their context. The CatholicChurch does indeed still believe in the book of Revelation- literally. I think Lawrence has actually made some good points- I am not a defender of Beck- nor do I hold to the end time views of Beck. My ‘end times’ theology is basically Catholic. I would recommendScott Hahn’s book ‘The Lambs Supper’ which is an excellent Catholic teaching on the book of Revelation- Hahn is an A-1 Catholic scholar- he teaches Catholic doctrine- real Catholic doctrine. And Hahn does an excellent job at showing us how the book of Revelation is centered around Christ and the reality of the church and the kingdom of God. I am not totally throwing O’Donnell under the bus- I think he has said some good stuff about this not being ‘the end of the world’ and other things- but it’s not good to have a Catholic news man say ‘this is what Catholics believe’ when he obviously does not know what Catholics believe. Yes, Beck does need to be reigned in a bit- but don’t do it at the expense of confusing people about the church. A persons personal view is fine- but don’t tell people what the church does or does not believe- especially if you’re not familiar with the material- o well- I forgot- being misinformed about the facts has never really mattered that much at MSNBC- I’m sorry.
Just a note- The Catholic Church has ‘modernized’ since the famous Council at Trent- Vatican Council 2 [1962-65] did indeed try and bring the church more into modern times. And there have been statements made that say the reading/teaching of the bible should not be taken in a way that rejects the modern advances of science. But the official belief of the bible being the Word of God is still official Catholic doctrine. Many Protestants confuse the Catholic belief by thinking the church accepts Tradition over the bible- this is actually not so. The official belief of the Catholic Church is that the voice/teaching of God comes to us thru both Tradition and the Bible- they donot say Tradition is over the Bible. There are lots of common misconceptions that Protestants and Catholics have made about each other over the years- I don’t think it will do either side any service for MSNBC and FOX to get into this type of debate on the air. It takes more time than a few sound bites to teach it right- it would be better to just leave it be.
 WHAT A MESS! Okay, it’s time to talk. First- as you know we have been bombing Libya for a few days now- what started as a ‘no fly zone’ is now being called ‘Kinetic military action’ [war]. Of course the left and the right are doing their best to simply win their side of the argument- the left wing media are just as bad as the right- don’t let anyone fool you. What do I mean? What’s the ‘real’ story behind our action? The real story is we really have no control over what’shappening in the Arab world right now. These last few days have seen other major developments- bad stuff. In Egypt the military and the Muslim Brotherhood have indeed formed a sort of coalition and they passed a referendum that the majority of the original Democratic protestors did not want. There have also been reports of the military brutally repressing former protestors. In Yemen and Syria and Bahrain things are really getting out of hand. Many leaders have chosen to simply shoot the protestors- outright. In Libya we had a situation where Gadhafi was on the outskirts of Benghazi and he was sending out warnings ‘flee the city- once we take it we will show no mercy’ now- the president and the media have said he was threatening to carry out a genocide and the media have actually said we stopped a genocide. How they know this for sure- to report as fact- is beyond me. It would be like reporting Bush’s ‘kinetic’ action in Iraq as ‘we averted nuclear war’- now, maybe some people reallybelieve this, but you can’t report it as fact. Second- what exactly was Gadhafi saying? Remember what has happened over the last few weeks. In Libya- you have the major city in the east, Ben Ghazi, as the second largest Libyan city [behind the capitol Tripoli] and when the protests first started they were treated just about as badly as they were in Yemen, Syria, etc. After a few days the rebels in Libya took up arms- captured some military equipment and basically started a real civil war. The rebels marched westward towards the capitol and took city after city- thru military action. They were on the outskirts of Tripoli and they were threatening to take over the country. Gadhafi got his troops together and he fought back- he then went from city to city on the trek back east- towards the rebels capitol- Ben Ghazi. So far France is the only country to recognize the rebels in BenGhazi as a legitimate govt. So Gadhafi is on the outskirts of the cityand he makes the threat. Obama -being convinced By Susan Rice, Samantha Powers [2 women who strongly believe that the U.S. should use force for humanitarian purposes] and eventually Hillary Clinton- he gives the go ahead. Now- whetheryou agree with the action or not- the actual handling of the matter was less than competent. There is a lot of spin about the president gaining world support and all [NATO, Arab League, etc.] but in reality secretary Gates got it right when he said ‘we did it on the fly’. The obvious squabbling of the so called coalition shows that we didn’t do our homework. Okay- the right wingers say the president is a total incompetent failure- Beck even designed another conspiracy involving Cass Sunstein! The left are saying the president is doing a great job. Of course the reality is he probably was talked intotaking action- his military men were obviously against it- he was being told ‘look- the mad man is going to commit genocide’ and he had Kerry and McCain making the rounds [Lieberman too] calling for action. Was Gadhafi threatening genocide [the mass killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians] probably not. How do we know? In every ‘rebel’ held city he took back on the road east- he did not carry out a genocide in any of them. Did he kill people? Yes. Have the Rebels killed people? Yes. We need to distinguish between peaceful protestors and a civil war- what we now have in Libya is a civil war. Bothsides have taken up arms against each other- this is very differentthanshooting unarmed protestors in the streets. So now we are in- it is really silly to make it sound like NATO or any other coalition has the real ability to take command of the mission. Even if NATO ‘takes command’ it’s us doing the majority of the work. It was a mistake for the president to have not gone to the congress-and to have left the country right before the bombing began. Yes- he should have canceled the LatinAmerican trip and called the key congressional leaders back for an emergency meeting. The congress felt dissed- both sides are angry- and it was a result of a degree of incompetence- learning on the fly type of action. Yes- you don’t need to subscribe to Becks theory- but please- you can’t see this as having been done competently. Now- are the media biased? In LatinAmerica the resident guaranteed Brazil a few billion dollars of aid to promote their off shore oil drilling. The company [which actually has been invested in by major Democrat donars- George Soros] will be drilling in THE GULF OF MEXIICO [well actually the South Atlantic is not in the gulf- it is below it- sorry!]- and they will also be using some of the money to look into buildingunderwater oil storage tanks in the Gulf. How the media can’t be covering this is a joke. I mean we have just come off of the biggest oil spill in the history of the world- we implemented many restrictions on U.S. drillers in the gulf- and on the trip the president guarantees ‘seed money’ for another nations oil industry to drill in the gulf- this is crazy. In Germany the papers have printed the atrocious pictures taken by some of our soldiers of the dead civilians they killed in Afghanistan [I wrote on this case before- some rogue soldiers did indeed have a group of guys who targeted civilians for ‘fun’]. Now- the German paper- Der Spiegel- has printed the photos. They look horrible- our guys have the bodies propped up- its bad. Why has the U.S. media not covered this like the scandal during Bush’s presidency? Most of us have the images of the abuse of Gitmo prisoners engrained in our minds. The famous photos of the prisoners with the hoods on their heads and all. At the time the defense secretary tried to not have the photos published- the media reported it as a major criminal cover up- possibly to the point of the president and his top men havingcommitted war crimes- and they showed those pictures day after day- allover the place. In the current trial of the soldiers- the media has not only not covered the story [U.S. media] but they have refused to show the pictures. Why? The military has actually said they don’t want the pictures getting out. Now- why is there no media criticism of this happening under a Democratic president? In Gitmo the actions were wrong- but they were embarrassing actions done against actual enemy prisoners- still wrong- but no one was killed. In the current scandal these are dead innocent civilians in the pictures- it’s so much more worse. If the media has chosen to ‘not cover it’ because it could cause harm to our guys- fine- but that’s the exact argument this same media said was covering up war crimes under Bush. If we want the American people to reject the conspiracies of Beck- then they can’t at the same time be so biased in their reporting. This week- the events in Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Libya- there is no doubt that things have really turned for the worse. I heard one analyst- usually an excellent commentator- say the U.S. needs to begin planning a possible takeover of the Saudi Oil fields if the nation falls- this is bad my friends. I think the president meant well in Libya- I think he has lost control of the entire Middle East situation- the former Prime Minister of Israel [current Defense minister] Ehud Barak was on the Charlie Rose show- he was asked about how the area views Obama- he honestly said they are confused. He goes soft on the hard dictators and hard on the soft ones. I heard a report on NPR [NPR MIND YOU!] they asked the person how the military views the president [the guy was an insider] he said they view him as disconnected, uninterested and as someone who really doesn’t want to be bothered with military stuff- I can’tbelieve this was on NPR. So even though the president was stuck between a rock and a hard place- he still has made some terrible blunders. I just hope this is the last Muslim country we engage in like this- we need to get out of the previous 2 already- we can’t afford any more.
 MUSLIM IN AMERICA- THE PRESIDENTS SPEECH AND OTHER MUSINGS.
Last night the president finally spoke to the nation in defense of our military action in Libya. He made the case that there are times when the U.S. can/should act if we feel we can avert a humanitarian disaster- he also said we can’t always intervene in every conflict. I guess for the most part this makes some sense- it’s just the way he handled it [going on vacation- congress in recess]. There are still lots of questions to be asked/answered. Today the rebels are on the outskirts of a western city that is ‘pro Gadhafi’. The city is called Sirte and like other cities in the west they favor Gadhafi more so than the rebels. The question is; how do we justify the bombing of Gadhafi’s military- in order to protect civilians- while the rebels are getting ready to overthrow a civilian population- with force- against the majority of the will of the people? We have indeed enabled the rebels to advance this far west, and we are basically on the side of the rebels- in this case- against the populace.
The other night I watched a CNN special on Muslim discrimination in America- most of you who read my posts [blog] know I try and take the more moderate position of not branding all Muslims as radical. I do think there are times when Muslims are discriminated against wrongfully because of their faith. Yet at the same time the media often show their bias. The show did a good job at revealing how Muslims face discrimination in America- the host- Soledad O’Brien- kind of showed the ‘ignorant’ Christians versus the moderate Muslims. The town was Murphysboro Tenn. [yes- they picked a spot that would be a little more redneck than usual] and they interviewed a few American Muslim women whose sole experience of Islam comes from an American perspective. These women, as sympathetic as their causes are- do not even begin to breech the absolute discrimination and oppression that many Muslim women experience around the globe on a daily basis- it was just unfair for CNN to portray Muslim women as victims of Christian discrimination while overlooking the real problem- expressed by many women who have chosen to speak out- against the oppression women face when living in countries that have Sharia law as the law of the land.
As I continue to teach the study on Islam [so far have only done 1 post on it] I want to try and approach the strained relationship that exists between Western society and Islam- yet I don’t want to be an apologist for Islam. I’m currently going thru a course on Islam that is taught by the official govt. teacher on the subject. I believe he was sitting in the second row of the president’s speech last night. Over the years I have studied on lots of subjects- years of utilizing the public library system, buying university level books [not pop culture Christian stuff on how to ‘get what you want’] and I have also ordered courses [C.D. and book] from the top professors of the universities of the world. These course are not cheap- yet they are cheaper than actually getting credits for the courses [you can take the same courses as extension courses from the universities and get credit- but that’s way too expensive- especially if done thru the elite universities- Harvard, etc.] So instead I simply purchase the courses and do them on my own. Now- the reason I say this is to explain a ‘funny thing’ that happened on my study of Islam. When I first ordered the course I noticed the ratings were not that great. Most courses are rated in the 80-90 percentile- from others who have done the course- this one was in the 60’s. I hesitated to get it- but the other courses that dealt with Islam also dealt with other religions- and I didn’t want to do an entirecomparative religion study at this time. So these courses are taught by the top tier professors in the world [these professors are peer reviewed and deemed to be in the top 10 %]. This one on Islam is taught by the person who teaches Islam to the incoming govt. employees under president Obama. As I’m going thru the course- there are times where I feel like the teacher is too defensive of Islam- sort of like the CNN special. At one point the professor defends Muhammad as a religious leader who freed women from oppression and instituted an openand liberalsociety for all people- especially women. Geez- stuff like this is very problematic- I know enough about the current world nations that have Islam as the official religion of the nation- these nations are without a doubt very oppressive to women.
Like many things in life- we all try and do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt- and as someone who has disagreed with the president and been openly critical of him- yet I try not to be so biased that I find fault with everything he does. The media has far left defenders- who never find anything wrong with the man- and far right critics who never find anything right. At this time- the revolts in North Africa and the Middle East are really getting out of hand- the Christians in Egypt- an ancient Christian church [Coptic] have lived there since the early days of Christianity- they have just voted in Egypt torecognize Sharia law as the official law of the land- this referendum was passed by 70 % of the population- and the Muslim Brotherhood showed their organizational abilities by gaining a majority of the vote for the things they wanted. So now the Christians in Egypt might face the same fate as those in Pakistan- being put to death for blaspheming Islam [which often means witnessing for Christ]. The rebels who we are fighting for in Libya are much more radical than Gadhafi- yes Gadhafi was/is a madman- yet the rebels have more Al Qaeda influence than Gadhafi- they have been enemies in Libya for years. Do we really want our people dying for the Rebels?
There are still lots of questions to be answered- I am uncomfortable that the course I’m going thru on Islam is so skewed to the point of defending Islam as a great liberator of women and their rights- I was even more troubled to have seen ‘my instructor’ sitting in the 2nd row at the president’s speech.
 EPISTEMOLOGY- Lets do a little more on how we learn- know stuff. The actual ‘study’ of how we know things is called Epistemology. Today’s popular movement is called Post Modernism- a challenge to the classical idea of Modernism. The classical way of looking at knowledge said there are things that are ‘really true’ and things that are not- this is called Objective Truth. The Post Moderns say words are limited [true to a degree] and because words are simply vehicles that transmit ideas that are not really ‘true’ in the classical sense, then it is wrong for one group [like Christians] to say to another group [non- Christians] that Jesus is the Way- Truth and Life [Johns gospel]. So the battle lines are drawn. It should be noted that a growing number of believers are describing themselves as Post Modern and they argue that it is possible to be Christian and Post Modern at the same time. Okay- as more of the classical type- I believe it is possible to get to objective truth- that the pursuit of what’s true is not a vain pursuit- and yes- though we are all limited in our understanding, yet to even have this conversation requires an element of Absolute Truth. If the Post Modernistsays ‘words have no objective truth- only relative truth- they only convey what the hearer decides they convey’ then I can say ‘Oh- so if I take your words to mean there is such a thing as objective truth- that’s okay’? O know you idiot- you’renot hearing what I’m saying! So you see that the Post modernist needs his words to mean something- to convey a specific thing to the hearer- if the hearer can make the words mean whatever he wants- then you can’t even engage in the discussion- got it? So anyway- as I’m thinking about scrapping my Islam course [and just teaching it from stuff I learned myself- in the immortal words of defense secy. Bob Gates ‘on the fly’] I do want to utilize whatever objective truth I can pick up along the way- while at the same time realizing all people have their own biases and we need to listen with a careful skepticism. I ordered acourse on Physics a while back- good course- but the instructor- though smart- made aclassic mistake in Logic as he taught the course. He often said ‘the universe was created BY CHANCE’. Now- as a purelygrammatical- logical argument- this incorrect [a fallacy]. Why? What he really means to say is ‘there are unknown causes in the universe that created the effect of existence- we do not know what these causes are- but we believe that thru a series of actions- which have no particular direction [chance] these unknown causes have caused the effect of the universe’. Okay- I don’t want to be nitpicky- but when I hear an intelligent person say ‘everything was made BY CHANCE’ and for him to get away with this without a rigorous challenge- then the Christian thinker has failed in his task to challenge the skeptic on his own terms- to show that even though the person may be an expert in his field [Physics] yet this does not mean he can get away with fallacious arguments- arguments that are invalid from the get go. So as we progress over the coming weeks/months on the various fields of study- we want to be open to learn from others who have specialized in their particular fields of study- we want to be open minded enough to learn from people who reject the faith- yes atheists can teach us things- there are areas of knowledge that all people have that can benefit the rest of us. And we want to weigh all things that we hear- we all make mistakes- and are susceptible to error. Just because my Physics ‘teacher’ screwed up in a classic way- a way that most apologists recognize right off the bat- I mean you have to be an amateur ‘arguer’ of truth to make this type of mistake- yet I didn’t reject the entire course- I still learned valuable insights from the man. So I think this is the best approach to take- listen to all sides of a matter- doubt the things that seem a little off- do some research- check into it yourself-and at the end of the day let a variety of sources be your pool of knowledge- don’t just rely on one source. Proverbs says ‘In the multitude of counselors there is safety’. Be sure you’re listening/hearing from the multitude [broad range of thought and learning] because often times single sources can be right in one area- and off in another.
 ALL IN ALL IT’S JUST ANOTHER BRICK [OR HOLE?] IN THE WALL-
Yesterday the president gave an outline of his future plans on energy- lots of the same stuff, trying to use clean sources of fuel- says he really is a big oil type guy- though his critics deny it. He even brought up a familiar refrain from the campaign trail- that the oil companies already have huge land leases that they ‘refuse’ to drill on. Is this really true? Yes and no. This argument became popular during the campaign as an ideologicaldefense [not practical truth] against the conservative ‘drill baby drill’ mantra. The argument says the oil companies don’t really need ANWAR or more off shore drilling permits- that they have all the drilling spots they need- they just won’t use it! I have a died in the wool liberal friend who I engage with every so often- as a middle of the road independent I often see/take up different sides. One day this person was using this argument- saying the people who say Obama is not for oil drilling are all liars- because the companies secretly refuse to drill on all the land the govt. has already given to them. I asked the person why they think the companies- who in their opinion are all ‘b-stards’ wont drill. The person really had no answer- except that they felt they did it on purpose to get Obama. I said these companies- according to your view- care nothing at all about anything but profits [maybe so] if they really could care less about anything else but profits- then why are they cutting their own throats by not making money on land that you say has all this oil? The reality is the leases that Obama is speaking about are areas where most of the oil experts think really has no oil- if they thought the land was rich in oil- they would drill it. This argument shows you how even though it seems reasonable to come to the obvious conclusion- yet because you see the opposing side as all ‘b-stards’ you can’t even think clearly.
This same person has told me that those who oppose the president’s health care reform are also racists- that the only logical conclusion to the opposition is racism- this theme is often promoted on MSNBC. I explained my story to the person. After I retired from the fire dept. I lost my insurance- it would have cost me around $6-700 a month to keep it- I couldn’t afford the darn thing to be honest. So as things go in life- right after my warranty was up- things started to break. I mean the month I dropped my insurance. I had various back injuries from doing my type of work but these would be covered under the workman’s comp. stuff- but I had a few otherthingsthat I needed to go to a doctor for- one trip costs around $150.00 and if you have to keep going back to renew prescription meds- then that’s a lot. So instead I opted for ‘Ojohna-care’- I went on-line- typed in the name of the med I’m supposed to be on and found some non- prescription stuff. It still costs money- but it’s all I can really do- honestly. Doing it like this is not recommended- you don’t see a doctor who monitors stuff- but you do what you got to do. Now- as someone who has actually paid for insurance my whole life- who now pays out of pocket for my own health care- the way Obama care has affected my family is I will now be paying an extra $700- 1000 dollars a year to cover other peoples insurance. My son in-law- who owns his own carpet laying business will also pay the fines [it’s too much to get full coverage- the fines are the only real option] one of my daughters [or actually 3- depending on the school situation]will also pay the fines. So all in all my family is out an extra 4 thousand or so a year- without getting coverage for ourselves. At the same time the person I was explaining this to- who accused us all of being racists because we didn’t support the plan- this person has never once paid for insurance- they have had free coverage and have also used Medicaid and Medicare. So in the real world- this person’s only experience is seen thru other people paying for their insurance- they never really saw the reality of a situation like mine- real people who because of real fines will have less real money to buy their own ins/medicine. Now- it would be nice if the person who was getting the free coverage at my expense- while I’m actually needing it worse than them- it would be nice for them to appreciate my family taking up the extra cost for them- but instead this person sees me as a racist- because to them that’s the only real reason why someone would be against Obama care.
Yesterday I put up a shelf- I went thru the procedure of finding the stud in the wall to hammer the nail into. I figured I would do the free style thing first- you know try and simply guess. One here- one there- no results. Okay- I’ll do the 1 nail every inch- stillnothing! Geez- does the wall have studs or what? So after putting quite a large amount of nail holes in the wall- I finally hit oil- I mean sure- it looked like I left the front door open and some local gang did a drive by shooting- but dang it- I found that darn stud!
As our country goes thru real rough times- times where we demonize the other side because we can’t see things clearly- let’s try and be open to listening to both sides. We hear the argument that the oil people don’t want to drill because they simply want to bring the president down- they hate Black people. The fact is they don’t want to be drilling for nonexistent studs in the wall- doing stuff that they know won’t work. Many people oppose Obama care because it really affects them- in a very negative way. And when others who are getting insurance for free- at my expense- call me and my kids racists because we oppose it- well it’s makes me want to go cool off somewhere, a relaxing way to get my mind off the whole thing- I know what, let me go try and hang another shelf.
 3rd PILLAR- ZAKAT.
As I was debating whether or not to continue my study on Islam [today] the spot I stopped at last was the 3rd pillar. Sure enough yesterday [and the rerun at 1 a.m.] Beck did an interesting show on Zakat. He had on a few experts- who are known to not be sympathetic to Islam- and they covered the subject of non violent Jihad- those who advocate for an Islamic society thru non violent means. Now- I know some Beck supporters have been upset with me in the past because I criticize Beck- it’s not that I don’t think he actually brings up things that other networks don’t- sometimes he does reveal stuff that the other networks don’t because they are so ‘in the tank’ for the president. I never thought I’d see the day where a news host actually would describe his ‘feelings’ that come over him when he hears the president speak- he actually used sexual connotations to describe it [a tingle goes up my leg]. Now- I’m not saying this to be cute [okay- maybe a little] but to say I have never in my life seen the media- the so called 4th estate- so one sided. So Beck [Fox] does serve a purpose. Now- Beck covered the groups that raise money under the banner of ‘charity’ and yet they have ties to radical Islam, and they discussed the ancient Islamic practice of Zakat [or Tithe].
In the Muslim community Zakat is giving a portion [2.5%] of both goods and finances for the sole purpose of providing for the poor. In Muslim communities the Zakat is like social security. The word literally means purification. The word itself is not a terrorist term- nor the practice. It is important for Beck and others to cover stories about the use of Zakat given to charitable groups for radical purposes- yet most Americans have probably not heard of the term before- and their first introduction to it was seen thru an association to terror.
Years ago I had a chance meeting with a Muslim- I’m sure he didn’t realize he ran into some nut who studies just about everything a person can study [I was working at the fire house and on duty]. He was a devout Muslim- dressed in Muslim garb an all. As we talked I gave him the biblical history of Abraham and his 2 sons Isaac and Ishmael. I traced the lineage of Christians and Jews from Isaacs’s line, and the genealogy of Muslims [Arabs] thru Ishmael. I spoke about the coming of Jesus in the 1st century of the Common Era as the promised offspring that God originally told Abraham about. I explained the purpose of the Messiah [Jesus] as being the predestined one sent by God to unite all people and tribes under one new nation- the Kingdom of God. I explained to my friend that Christianity teaches that Jesus was not simply a prophet- but one who died for the sins of the world and rose again as the final sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the sins of men. I was surprised to see my Muslim friend hearing the whole story- for the 1st time. He told me he was not familiar at all with the history [even though it is both biblical history and Islamic- the part about Ishmael which is found in the book of Genesis]. He seemed so grateful to have heard it thru ‘this angle’ not from the angle of the Crusades- or of Western Colonialism- but from the angle of the grace of God that has come to all tribes and races thru Jesus Christ.
As I watch the media day after day- seeing more unrest in the Middle East than I haveever witnessed in my lifetime. Seeing the growing strain between Christians and Muslims and Jews [the Fla. Pastor went and burned a Koran and Muslimdemonstrators in Afghanistan attacked the U.N. building and killed and beheaded some workers]. As I see the lines being drawn in the sand- I come back to the story of my Muslim friend- who obviously was dedicated to his faith [wearing the robe and all] yet he never clearly heard the gospel- which actually means Good News. The bible commands us [Christians] to live in peace with ALL MEN- to love our neighbor as our self- to even love those who hate us- to pray for those who persecute us and to do good [a type of Zakat] to our fellow man. While I make no excuses for the killing and beheading of the U.N. people- yet to burn the holy book of another religion is also not living peaceably with all men.
I believe the Islamic practice of Zakat is closer to actual biblical teaching than what most Christians practice today. The majority of Christian giving- often wrongfully referred to as the Tithe- goes to the function of media ministry- church buildings- salaries- etc. under 10 percent goes to meeting the needs of the poor. Yet in the teachings of Jesus and in the New Testament the majority teaching on giving is in context of giving to meet the needs of the poor [go read my books under the Feb- 2010 posts- and also the study called ‘what in the world is the church’ under the Feb posts]. So in a very real way I do think the Islamic Zakat is closer to the biblical practice than what most 21stcenturyChristians practice.
I will obviously have many things I will not embrace about Islam infuture posts- I will try and cover those differences as respectfully as I possibly can- without being a biased defender of Islam [as my current instructor on the course seems to be]. And I will make the case for Christ as well. At the end of the day hopefully we can learn more about our various beliefs- try and have respect for those who differ- and root for the moderates among us. I reject the Koranburning pastor in Fla. And I hope most Muslims will also reject the radical elements within their ranks. The history of the 3rd Pillar of Islam is a good one- a practice that centers around the teachings of Christ- it’s a shame that some in the Muslim community have hijacked it for violent Jihad.
 RADIO WARS and some other stuff.
Okay, confession time again. Every so often I admit a fault, yes- I face the blog community and do the ‘I confess to almighty God and to you my brothers and sisters- that I have sinned …’ my Catholic readers know the scoop. Catholics have a pretty good track record on confession- they confess to another person every so often. Most Protestants don’t realize that the original Protestant movement that was launched in the 16th century- these reformers did not have a big problem with confessing to a Priest. The book of James [in the New Testament] speaks about confessing to each other- and the Protestants really did not make a big deal over this issue- initially. Later on doctrines like this became a big division- but not initially.
Okay- here’s the confession. Over the years I have battled with my kids over the bathroom radio [my 2 oldest- 18, 19] still live at home and they turn the station to the rock channel when they take showers- now I like rock- classic. My driving around station is the local classic rock channel [104.5]. But in the morning I like the Christianstation before I write/speak [record a radio show]. So we go back and forth on it. About a week ago my bathroom radio broke- I had the thing for around 25 years- no joke- I used to record radio shows from the thing [the cassette recorder on top]. So being the frugal person that I am [cheap] instead of breaking down and buying another radio [geez- I only get 25 years out of them!] I go to the garage and work on the one that I have sitting in there for yes- around 25 years. This one has worked all along; you just couldn’t change the dial. You could turn it but it wouldn’t always work. So as I’m messing with it I get it to play on a Christianstation [air 1- kind of a rock Christian thing- okay] and I actually use the plumbers glue to glue the thing permanently on the station. Now- I’m sure my kids think ‘geez- dad is serious about winning this radio war’ but the truth is if they changed the dial it would be impossible to get back to the station. In the past I wrote little notes on the radio ‘don’t remove this radio!! Ever!!’ They used to take it from the bathroom and I’d never see it for weeks. But they didn’t listen to my notes- in fact they mocked them. Some days I would get ready for the morning shower and the note would say ‘I moved it!’ yes- they put it back- but they took the time to mock my note.
So now I have the radio glued to the Christian rock station [I prefer KLOVE- but Air 1 is okay] and this morning as I’m taking a shower I hear the D. J. say ‘up next- Hanson’. Now- I didn’t even know Hanson [the boy band- now older] was doing Christian music- I felt ‘dirty’ listening to them- not because they were kid rockers- it’s just you can’t claim to be a classic rocker and actually have listened to a complete song from Hanson- in a way it’s like joining a cult. But I had no option- I was in the shower and the song just played. I was surprised- they sounded real good. It reminded me of a story I saw on one of the rock channels one day [VH1 ?] They were talking about Donny Osmond’s break into the hard rock world. He was trying to shake the squeaky clean image and made some good heavy metal type songs. They said the songs were good- one of them [Soldier of Love] made it into the top 10 rock songs of the day [in the 70’s]. Yet when the rock stations played the song they would simply say ‘by an unknown artist’ they knew their listeners would rebel if they heard a Donny Osmond song. So that’s my confession- yes- a few minutes ago I was rocking out with Hanson- just hope none of my buddies find out about this.
Okay-being I already wasted all this space- let me hit a few short things. I just finished the book of Proverbs again [reading it slowly over a few weeks] and there were a lot of points I wanted to hit- maybe the next week or 2 I’ll get to some. I just started a new book on Philosophy- I picked it up a few months ago at half price books and never looked at it until last night- I like it a lot. I know the subject is controversial- many Christians shy away from it- but if you study history [like I do a lot] you will see the strong connection between philosophy and theology [study of God]. In the ancient universities [Paris- etc.] these were referred to as the main subjects- Theology was the Queen of learning and philosophy was her handmaid.
So let me just give a short quote- Socrates said ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Philosophy- as a system- started around 6oo years before Christ in Greek society. The popular guys we hear about- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle- they lived around 3-350 years before Christ. Christianteachers have taken different stances for and against philosophy. The church father Tertullian said ‘what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem’ meaning philosophy and Christian teaching don’t go together. Yet the great Swiss reformer- Ulrich Zwingli [16thcentury] was a well schooled theologian- learned in many of the subjects of his day- like the great Catholic scholar Erasmus. These guys were a little more refined [though Zwingli was actually a warrior- killed for the cause] and they saw the Greek philosophers as precursors to Christ- Zwingli believed he would see the great Greek philosophers in heavensome day. So as you see the church has taken different stances on the subject. It’s hard to say that philosophy had no role on Christian thought- many Christians don’t realize that the apostle John almost quoted verbatim from Greek philosophy when he used the phrase ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God’ [John’s gospel- chapter 1]. In Greek philosophy there was what was considered this ultimate unified principle- that would bring all learning together as one giant truth- this was called Logos- the Word. Greek philosophy had been looking for the Word [Logos] for years- trying to find the one key truth that would tie all other truth together- John was simply saying to Greek society ‘Look- we have found the Truth- the Divineprinciple that you have been looking for’. So for John to quote this in his gospel was not plagiarism [as some atheists contend] but wisdom- he was speaking to the people in ways that would connect with them. Yes- because scripture is Divine- Inspired- we believeJesus is very much The Word- the one who proceeds from God- but we also realize that in a sense John borrowed this form of words from the Greek philosophers- nothingwrong with it.
Okay- that’s it for today- I hope you guys always pick something up that sticks with you- you know a little nugget of wisdom that in 30 years from now if I see some of you at an old school reunion you can walk up to me and say ‘John- Jesus is the Word of God’ something that I will be proud about. O wait- just had a thought- if someone walks up and says ‘John- I hear you like Hanson’ I will respond ‘Who’s John?’
 HE QUOTES SHAKESPEAR!
A few years ago my city appointed a new police chief- he was a local guy who rose through the ranks and made it to the top. Lots of times the city hires out of towners who apply- but this time they went with a local. At the time the news was ‘He quotes Shakespeare’ I mean over and over again. Our local news is funny- all 3 major networks do a local news format 3 times a day- each. They run a show at 5 p.m. – 6 and 10. They run the exact same show [each channel does their own show- but the repeats are exactly the same]. So for some reason the big story at the time was the police chief quotes Shakespeare. I mean I heard the story- 3 times a day [actually 9] all day. Read it in the paper- saw the news ads about the ‘news at 10’ the thing was everywhere- I was tempted to write a letter to the editor of the paper- the headline being ‘NO MORE SHAKESPEAR- PLEASE!!’ Anyway the chief eventually became embroiled in a few scandals and he quit/was fired.
The reason the Shakespeare thing was popular was because in our day we have a tendency to neglect the ‘more refined’ things in life. I know there’s always a danger of doing stuff just so others can think your more refined- Jesus did warn against it [don’t pray, fast and do charity just to make a show of it] yet at the same time we do want to be wise- to become informed about stuff. A while back I took my computer to a friend who offered to help me with the web site- I was/am a total amateur at web stuff- I know I write a lot- but I didn’t even have an email account until the last 5 years or so. Anyway as an amateur I try and seek wisdom from others who have been at this longer than me. So my buddy indicated he was a computer whiz and he offered to show me how the system works [it was when I first set up the blog]. As I was explaining to him that all I’m trying to do is have a site where people can click a link and read the books/studies separately [at the time everything was just one long scroll] he mistook what I was asking- he thought I wanted to do a PDF type file so people could download the materials. As he told me that this is what I wanted [which I really didn’t want]I tried to humbly say ‘I’m sorry, I must not be too clear- what I really mean to ask is this’ and I tried to say I don’t need what he’s telling me. He got silent- he stared at the screen and said ‘this is what you mean’- he was mad. Now- I didn’t want to get my friend mad- he was doing this for free- as a favor- but I began to realize he really was not much wiser than me on some of this stuff. At one point- being perturbed- he explained to me that the blog/web site only exists on my lap-top. That there is no ‘viral realm’ where the site exists. He was trying to say if I dumped the laptop in the bay- that the web site would be no more. Now- even as an amateur I realized myfriend was not as wise as he made himself out to be- obviously a web site continues to exist- even if your laptop takes a drink in the bay.
Sometimes we simply need to check the source- a person might mean well- but not be capable of the task at hand. Fine- they meant well- but they didn’t have the capability to do the job. When the local news were enamored with the new top cop- they mistook ‘quotingShakespeare’ with the ability to do the job. It’s good to be refined- to learn the classics- to have a grasp on world events- to be well rounded in your education- but at the end of the day if you can’t do the job- all the Shakespeare quoting in the world doesn’t help.
 CULTS- I was thinking of covering the 4th Pillar of Islam today [our current study on Islam] but as I was walking into my office I noticed a pamphlet from the local Jehovah’s Witness group- it was an invite to their meeting. My kids must have found it on the door.
Over the years I have had great talks with the Witnesses as well as the Mormons. I’m always upfront from the start- I tell them I do teach the bible and church/religioushistory and as our talks begin I cover the basic historical background of their groups. I tell them why historic Christianity often defines them as a Cult- I try and be open and nice- yet I tell them the reasons behind this label.
Most times they are open and willing to talk- I hear them and they hear me. I have had numerous occasions where the younger Mormon kids would come back and really get into the stuff I was teaching- one kid said ‘wow- you know all the stuff we know’ I quoted a few key verses and he really was learning. I had a husband and wife Jehovah Witness team come over- as I was doing the basic study [me teaching them some stuff] the husband had one of those ‘aha’ moments. I was teaching/explaining something from the book of Acts and he said ‘your right- God showed me that too!’ he was really excited.
I say all this to say we often view people as ‘the enemy’ I think some of the reason for them being open to what I have to say is the fact that most of the homes they knock on often view them in a real negative light. Almost as if they were enemies. Now- I am very aware of the doctrinal differences between these groups and historic Christianity- and there are real reasons for the cult label- but I try to see them thru the lens of honest people- who for whatever reason [often raised in the group] they are trying to serve God to the best of their ability. If you view them thru this more merciful angle- as opposed to evil cult members- then you can have an open door that goes both ways.
One of the sad things about current Christianity is the tendency- in many groups- to focus on the things that we disagree on. There are many good Christian churches who view the church down the block as a cult- often times these churches actually believe the same thing on 99 % of their doctrine- yet they have a disagreement on water baptism- or an end time doctrine- or the gifts of the Spirit- and these differences are deemed worthy of the cult label. It’s really a sad thing.
I caught the show Journey Home the other night- it’s the Catholic show hosted by Marcus Grodi- he does interesting interviews with ex protestants who have ‘returned home’ to the Catholic church. The guy he had on was a former Fundamental Baptist minister who is now Catholic. For those of you who are not familiar with Christian fundamentalism- this is no minor change. Most Fundamentalist Baptists hold to a very anti Catholic stand. Anyway it was interesting to hear his journey- how he came to learn church history and he was open to the story of Christianity down thru the ages. I felt he was a little too defensive of his Catholic faith- he quoted a bunch of verses from the book of Acts to kinda say ‘see- they were Catholics’ in the fully orbed sense of the word [Bishops, 7 sacraments, etc.] I did like the brother- it was just you could sense the old protestant reasoning in using proof texts to carry your argument thru to a quick, pat conclusion. Often times this way of proving ‘who’s right’ overlooks the importance of learning over a period of time- thru becoming familiar with lots of sources and at the end of the day you see that no ‘one church’ can really lay claim to their church being fully found in the bible.
What I mean by this is the bible gives us the story of the beginnings of Christianity and we really see the church in her infancy while reading the bible- we don’t yet see any particular Christian church fully formed in the scripture. Though many churches have their arguments- they will quote verses all day on why they are the ‘true church’ or ‘best one’ yet I like the more moderate approach- True Christians are found in all denominations and the ‘true church’ consists of all those in the various groups who truly embrace Christ.
So for today- be patient with the doorknockers- maybe you are a door knocker? If so, let’s all sit at the table- listen to each other and try to view people thru the lens of mercy. If my first thought of you is ‘radical Muslim’ or ‘evil cult’ then it will be next to impossible for me to relate to you in an open and honest way. I am not advocating the view that ‘all religions lead to God’ I’m simply asking that we be more patient with people- try and understand where they are coming from- I really have had some very open talks with lots of these groups- very upfront with them- I say ‘this is why historic Christianity views you as a cult’ yes I say that- but I say it in a way- during an ongoing conversation- that allows them time to respond and share their view- and I too respond and have an open conversation. I have found this to be the best way to relate to various religious groups- hope you do to.
 ANOTHER STRANGE INCIDENT and the budget showdown –
Okay, should I do this? To be honest with you guys, I usually try to avoid this- but I felt I needed to do it. In the mornings when I get up- very early- today I woke at 1 am and just finished a long prayer time [its 4:50 right now]. I walk in my yard and it’s real windy and you get the sense of being by a river. The bay is only a few hundred yards from my house- but it feels like being on a river for some reason. I usually get ideas on what to talk about in the morning- sometimes the night before. So the other day for some strange reason I ‘felt’ the Lord wanted me to talk about the possibility of another major earthquake- sometimes you get those feelings and you need to be careful about whether you think it’s from God or not. The feeling was pretty strong- I actually felt like it was going to be California- anyway I shook it off and the next morning wrote something else. Sure enough within a couple of hours of writing the post a 7.1 earthquake hit Japan, this was not considered an aftershock. So maybe the thought was from God.
Of course I could be making the whole thing up- but to be honest I get nothing out of doing all this stuff- I pay for the radio programs out of pocket [not cheap!] I take no offerings for any of this- ever. Don’t do preaching engagements [no offerings there either] so I really get nothing from the whole deal- so it would be pathetic to make it up- especially if you get nothing out of the thing!
One time I got a letter from a radio listener- the guy was a ‘preacher’ and he said he liked my show- said he was Gods ‘last day prophet’ [okay- a little spooky] but I went with it for a few weeks- trying to discern whether it was a real person who I should be patient with- or a nut job. Finally he sent me the ‘word from God’ how I was required to send a specific amount of holy cash to him- as a special sacrifice. I simply spoke about it on the air- saying I hoped he was a scam artist- because if he really believed this stuff he is without a doubt a false prophet. So you see doing the ‘I heard from God thing’ can be very manipulative- especially in the area of money.
Okay- last I saw the govt. might still shut down tonight [unless they signed something last night- I didn’t catch the late news]. Either way- let’s talk a little about how both politicians and the media can be- well ‘full of it’. First- they have been doing a real job with all the various numbers- they know peoplecan’t keep track so they float stuff for the sound bites. First- the new Tea Party Repubs promised- if elected- that they would slash 100 billion from this year’sspending. After they got in- Boehner and the more moderate Repubs were going to agree to around 30 billion- this got the Tea Partiers hot and they changed the number to around 60 billion. The Dems said no way and countered with a few billion in cuts.
Now- all these numbers are only talking about the current year’s budget- which ends in September of this year. So as they went back and forth the Repubs managed to shave off around 10 billion by doing these 2 week extensions [called C.R.’s- continuing resolutions]. So the Repubshave already managed to get around 10 billion cut- fine. The last deal they were going to offer was right at around 38 billion, the Dem’s were actually going to agree to around 30 billion. To be fair- the Dems moved a lot farther then they wanted. They did seem willing to compromise. Yet they are just as crooked as the Repub’s. Why? How many lists have you seen on the news about all the programs the Dems want to cut? Not one. How many lists from the evil Repubs? Lots. Why are there no listsabout the evil Dem cuts- I mean not one- and night after night we hear the Dems saying the Repubs want to kill grandma- go after the kids- on and on. The reason is the Dems, after all the stalling onactuallycommitting to cuts, still have not said what they are willing to cut. They say ‘we want to tax the oil industry more’ fine- but that’s not a cut. Instead they agreed ‘in principle’ to the 30 billion.
Now, you really can’t negotiate in good faith like this- because you get one side saying ‘we will cut this’ and the other side goes out and says ‘they want you to breathe dirty air- they want to kill grandma’- [you know, the Medicare thing]. Wait- you too want cuts- you said you did- you claim to want them- what programs are the Repubs saying about you ‘you want to do such and such’ none. Look- you can’t bargain like this. Yes- I think the Tea Partiers are too stubborn and should have dropped the social issues from the 1 week, 12 billion dollar cut which would fund the military for the rest of the year. But I heard Al Franken [okay- don’t like the guy] say ‘the Repubs are shooting us in the head- they are asking us to undo things[abortion funding] that have been in place for 40 years’ Really? There are 2 ‘Riders’ [yes- only 2!] in the current bill- to extend the C.R. 1 week and to fully fund the military for the rest of the fiscal year. The 2 riders [add on’s] are undoing the federal funding for abortions in Washington D.C. and stopping the E.P.A. from regulating carbon emissions- both of these things are new- they were recently passed by congress and signed by Obama- these are not undoing anything to be honest- they are simply going back to what we have been doing for the past 40 years- not undoing 40 years of stuff- like Franken said.
Well John, I saw them talking about cutting Planned Parenthood and all these other programs too. Yes- but that’s not in the 1 week extension that cuts 12 billion- that’s in the rest of the year extension that cuts 30 billion [and some of the stuff the Dems are screaming about is in Ryan’s ‘budget’ proposal- I mean his proposal is not even a real bill!] confusing- I know. I think the Repubs should drop the 2 minor ‘riders’ that are on today’s offer- drop the things- there small things- the Dems are making it sound like today’s bill will end abortion funding for everyone- just drop them. The Dems should be willing to say ‘yes- these are the things we will cut’. You can’t keep leaving it up to the minority party [the Repubs only hold the House- the Dems have the Senate and the Presidency] to present stuff. Paul Ryan released his 10 year- 4-6 trillion dollar cut in spending plan- of course the Dems went nuts and started the whole blame game. Look- if the Dems are not going to present an honest budget- which till this day they still haven’t done- then they can’t keep saying the Repubs want to kill grandma- geez- they need to present a budget. They hold the darn presidency; they hold the senate- pass a darn budget- do your jobs!
Look- I don’t agree with the Ryan plan- all cuts and no dealing with huge corporate welfare stuff- yet the Dems are hopelessly afraid of going on the record withanything- they are failing to do their job. I hope today they can sign the 1 week, 12 billion dollar bill- this bill is not the one that will cut Planned Parenthood funding, N.P.R. etc.- this one has the 2 small things I mentioned above- stuff that we have had for years. I wish the Repubs would drop these 2 little things- but if not- I think the Dems should still pass it for the sake of our military people and quit making it sound like this bill-today’s offer- will undo 40 years of abortion rights- if all these guys would simply stop lying all the time maybe that would also help. Maybe?
 DONALD TRUMP’S VIOLENT TORPEDO OF TRUTH?
Okay- I begin this post with another confession- I am not, never meant to be a birther. I have written posts ‘debunking’ birthers in the past. I am not Tea Partier- in many ways I’m actually a progressive [in other ways not]. So let’s talk about the birth certificate thing.
For the first time I decided to actually read all the various sides of this issue. I went on-line- not to the conservative type sites- but to actual legitimate sites [sites you know are legit- Real Clear Politics, Salon, Huffington, etc.- as well as some conservative ones] and I read up on the issue. One thing that becomes pretty clear from the start is it really is highly unlikely that the president has an actual birth certificate on record in Hawaii. Now- why this is I don’t know. I always knew there was some political calculation that was being made by the Obama campaign to not release it- I just thought it was politics- I really never thought the man did not have one. After reading the best defense that the media finally came up with to prove the president was born in Hawaii- that the grandparents put a notice in the paper that he was born- I began to realize we had a very real problem.
First- there are many people- including presidents and presidential hopefuls who have indeed released their original records- this is not hard to do- I have my originals from Hoboken N.J. here in my file drawer. There are Democratic workers who were in Hawaii at the time of the campaign who were inundated with media requests for the president’s birth certificate- it became a hot issue during the campaign and media outlets flooded Hawaii with requests. At first some of these Democrats [one particularly on record] thought it would be easy to simply get proof that the birth certificate was indeed in Hawaii- he went thru a few channels and found out [he swares] that for some reason Obama did not have one [lost- whatever- he did not have one]. So because the issue was so hot they went through a few routine things and they were really surprised that there seemed to be real doubt about this thing. Now- these people were not birthers- they were Dems.
Obviously the Dem’s- who viewed the ‘birthers’ as enemies decided they needed to step into action- so there were a series of news releases- the governor’s office stated they had a person go down and personally review the thing- then the media tried to pin the person down [it’s not illegal to lie- unless in court] they backed down [question? why do this- why not actually just release the thing- it’s not that hard- takes a few minutes]. Then they had the various releases of the thing most people have seen- the certificate of live birth- and the defenders of the president have spent much time going back and forth over all the conspiracies of where the thing has a raised seal and all sorts of stuff- and the defenders [non- birthers] spent many hundreds of man hours doing this- instead of simply getting permission form Obama to go and take a gazillion photo copies of the actual thing- which is easy to do- takes only a few minutes.
Then the race card came out- all types of theories on why questioning the birth is actually a civil rights issue that dates back to the days of slavery- many thousands of hours on why the grandmother said he was born in Kenya- the defenders of the president have documented the phone call made by some preacher- how she did say he was born in Kenya- but during the conversation she back tracked- they printed each word of the interview- the whole thing- many hundreds of hours went into this- I have an idea- why not release the original birth certificate- you know it only takes a few minutes- it’s done all the time- I have my original right here- Trump released his- McCain released his- lots of candidates released theirs- not really hard to do?
Then a few weeks ago the new Democraticgovernor of Alaska- who is a personal friend of the presidents parents- went all out and did a full media release that as soon as he got in office he would personally go down and release the thing- Chris Matthews from MSNBC jumped on the bandwagon and the liberal media began asking for it. A day or 2 later they dropped the entire matter.
For the first time in my life- I think it’s highlyprobable that the president does not have one on record- his campaign did indeed spend a couple of million dollars fighting the ‘release’ of the record. Why? It only takes a few minutes to release the thing. Why all the stories of people testifying that they spotted it- like NOAH’S ark- or a U.F.O. sighting- only to find out later that they made the story up? This really isn’t that hard to figure out- you can spot the truth by reading the defenders- the ‘non birthers’- the best evidence they have is Obama’s grandparents put an announcement in the paper [many question the on line picture of the announcement- others have fibbed with on line documents- it’s not a crime- politicians know how to do stuff like this. I’ll just say it’s possible that the grandparents did indeed put this in the paper- they were proud of their grandsons birth- you can do this even if you son was born in another state- this happens all the time].
I have never found a reason to even read up on this- why the president more than likely does not have one- I have no idea! Normally the press covers these stories in a legitimate way- instead of going through thousandsof man hours investigating the backgrounds of people [like the Democrat who initially found out he didn’t have one] the media could have found out in a single day whether or not he actually had an original- it does indeed seem like he does not have one.
The reason this is sad is because it might now become a real issue- instead of spending all these man hours in questioning Trumps motives- or investigating the actual words of the interpreter who was on the phone call with the grandma from Kenya- I mean the media has spent hundreds of thousands of hours on this- why not just ask the question- how bout we go down to the records place- you know it only takes a few minutes- and release the thing? I don’t know why- do you?
NOTE- Let me say, with this issue- like all issues- people have a tendency to take sides- to want to win- fight the opposing team. There are actual defenders of the president who think that even if he was not born in the U.S. that even if this were true- that to question it is still racist. When the media- who by reading some of this stuff- decide to go to great lengths to provide support for a candidate/later president- when they do this instead of honestly reporting facts- no story like this should be settled by saying ‘we looked into the matter and found out that the grandparents put an announcement in the paper’. This type of question demands much higher type proof- like getting an actual photo copy of the real thing- which is very easy to do- some have made it sound like getting a copy is like breaking into Fort Knox.
Yesterday there were a few very serious incidents that took place around the world. In Iraq the U.S. backed govt. shot and killed around 30 innocent civilians in cold blood- there are reports that our soldiers were right there- either way- these killings took place under the Iraqi regime- they killed Iranian refuges who have been living in an Iraqi refugee camp for a while now. These refugees fled Iran and are in opposition to the current Iranian regime
The current Iraqi regime- who we are close allies with- are actually friends of Iran- Iran cantbelieve the fact that the U.S. has spent lives and money and prestige- all in order to set up a pro Iranian regime in Iraq- this story is not commonly known/reported in the media.
So yesterday the pro Iraqi govt. who has our backing and support- decided to finally kill a bunch of the Iranian rebels who have opposed Iran’s current leader- the Iraqi govt. is friends with the Iranian leader- and he killed the Iranian leaders ‘protestors’ in cold blood- while we stood by and allowed this to happen. Now- why is this terrible? These are the same types of actions that we deemed worthy of calling for the overthrow of other leaders in other countries- we called for Egypt’s president to step down for things much less severethan this. Syria and Yemen are also killing their people in cold blood. Saudi Arabia has made contact with China and Russia and has decided that the U.S. govt. cannot be trusted anymore.
Look- these are real issues- things that rise to the level ofpossible war crimes. If our guys were on the ground and witnessed the slaughter of these Iranian civilians- then in the ‘good ole days’ the media would have been calling for war crimes tribunals- for Bush and Cheney! I think the ‘Birther’ stuff is time wasted- yes the media let a very big thing slip through- but it’s their inability to cover these very serious stories- our guys being implicated in being on the ground during a humanitarian war crime- though our govt. is not being blamed for the deaths- just the fact that the killers were our allies- soldiers that we train and back and support- and they killed political enemies of the Iranian leader who now has close ties to the leaders of the soldiers in Iraq- this is very bad.
That’s why when the media goes in the tank for any one person- Black, White- Democrat- Republican- I don’t care what side there on- when the media is willing to overlook a crime committed under one administrations watch- while much lesser offenses [water-boarding terrorists] were deemed worthy for trying a U.S. president in The Hague for- well that’s when we know we have real problems.
 WHAT DO WE WANT?
The other night I saw Hillary Clinton respond to the letter that Gadhafi sent to the president- the media are still baffled about the way Gadhafi speaks to Obama ‘why does he speak to him like he knows him? He refers to him as one of his own- a son’. Why are they so befuddled about this strange phenomenon? Please- the Londonpapers have already published full-page copies of the speech Gadhafi gave after Obama won- he praised him. The Chicago media have a history of the regional politicians and their connections with Gadhafi- it’s a well known fact that the president, along with Farrakhan and Rev. Wright [Obama’s pastor] had a strong friendship with the man. So it’s funny to see the media so exasperated over Gadhafi’s delusional statements that Obama is a friend.
Its stuff like this- obvious bias towards a high political figure who the media support- that makes the media less than credible when they report the news. Now- Clinton said ‘Gadhafi knows what’s expected of him- he must cease fire!’ Okay- is that really what we want the guy to do- cease fire. A couple weeks back as I was watching the coverage- Nick Robertson [CNN- loves Obama- not just a supporter- but sort of like Chris Matthews infatuation with the man]. Robertson is standing in Tripoli and he’s reporting on this strange thing- he reports that for some unknown reason Gadhafi has decided to stop firing on the rebels- yes- he has ceased all military attacks and the only bombs landing are the NATO [U.S.] ones. The rebels are also advancing in the outlying cities- full speed ahead- and the war rages on- against Gadhafi. Now- Robertson is again befuddled about the situation- maybe it’s a strategic move- yeah that’s it- Gadhafi is hiding his equipment so it doesn’t get blown up. Maybe his men are tired? For whatever reason- Gadhafi seems to have ‘ceased fire’ and the other side continues to fight.
Okay- are there any reporters- any one- who after hearing the U.S say over and over again ‘He must cease fire’ and Gadhafi has also said ‘the cease fire must apply to all sides’ are there any non biased reporters who might ask the question ‘Hey- maybe Gadhafi has ceased firing’. No, that would be too much to ask wouldn’t it.
Look- I’m not here to defend Gadhafi- but when you have s serious situation where people are indeed dying- we need reporting that is honest- non biased. If Bush/Cheney just so happened to have been good friends with some foreign leader- to the point where Bush’s own pastor was really buddies with the guy- do you think there might be a story about it- like ‘geez- Bush and all his men were really close to the guy- maybe that’s why the guy [Gadhafi] keeps talking like he knows the guy’ geez- you think maybe the media would report something like that?
We are still in lots of turmoil in the world- and the Libya thing is turning into a disaster- the ‘rebels’ are speaking out against NATO [you think? They attacked them a few times already- NATO bombed a tank the other day and said ‘we didn’t know the rebels had tanks’ the pictures have been on U-TUBE for weeks- way to go boys]. To be fair- the rebels want NATO to be their air force- NATO has rightfully said they are not the air force for the rebels- they are simply there to protect civilians- and every now and then accidently bomb a rebel tank.
I’m glad the president did the right thing in bringing together the Dems and Repubs this last week- he did do what was right. He also was morenon partisan that Bill Clinton during his showdown with Gingrich. I praise the president for this- but when your secretary of state says publicly ‘Gadhafi knows what we want- we want him to cease fire’ I don’t think he has any idea of what we want [half the world has no idea- we have been making confusing statements about Libya since day one]. And the media- if we are saying we want him to cease fire- if by mere chance he stops firing- you think you might report that? Instead they say ‘geez- it so strange that Gadhafi has stopped firing- maybe a strategic move’ and then they joyfully report the U.S. sorties and the rebels advance and the wonderful Torpedo planes from France as they blow the hell out of Gadhafi’s forces. If the media can’t even get that straight- there aint a chance in Hades that they will get anythingelse right in thisgiant mess.
 THE SOCIAL STUFF- During the recent debates about the budget the whole issue of funding for abortion came up. Some said it should have been dealt with others said put it off for now. I was in the camp that said let’s not try and add it on right now- our military people were facing the loss of their checks and I felt like we really needed to just pass something without getting into the whole abortion debate.
Now- having said this- I am without a doubt ‘Pro-life’. Whenever we have these types of debates everyone seems to get really pissed- almost as in if the Pro Lifers want to strip women of their ‘reproductive rights’. Last night one of the news shows presented it as the pro lifers were just as dangerous as Al Qaeda. While it is true that there have been extreme groups who advocated for the justifiable killing of abortion doctors- the majority of Christians [like in the upper 99 %]do not hold to this view.
One time while having a discussion with a liberal pro abortion person- the person argued for their position- as they became heated they began using language about disabled people that went like this ‘how dare those conservatives force women to have mentally retarded children- the mom has to put up with the crap of dealing with that person their whole life- the mom has no life- just taking care of this mentally retarded person..’ the person went on describing the ‘mentally retarded’ person as a ‘non human’. I said just listen to the way you are speaking about the person- I’m sure the mother of that child loves that child- does not view the child as some type of animal that they are forevercondemned of taking care of because of the conservatives.
When these debates are held in our country we need to understand that we are always talking about human life- if people want to debate when that life starts- fine. Or if they feel the quality of the life of the person might be less than a fully healthy child- fine. But understand that no one should have the right to take another human life- even if that life seems less valuable then what you deem worthy of life.
I heard a story a few weeks ago about a famous French scientist- I believe he was the one who discovered the gene that causes Down Syndrome- either way he was a leader in the field. He was a personal friend of Pope John Paul the 2nd and it was a time in the world where many nations were dealing with the whole issue of legalizing abortion. Because of the doctors work in the field- he had lots of patients who suffered from the disability. At one point there was a video put out advising doctors to let their patients know whether or not they want to take the test to see if their child [unborn] has the disease. The video advised strongly for doing the test so the woman could abort the less than desirable child. Somehow one of his child patients saw the video. On his next visit to the doctor he jumped into the doctors arms [young boy] and said ‘please help us- they want to kill us’. The doctor made it his goal to defend the rights of these innocent victims- people who do have value- who understood what the real issues were. The child pleaded for this adult to protect him and all others who shared his disability.
As this debate will continue to rage in our country- I hope we can all at least view people as human beings- people who do have value- even if we deem their value less than a fully healthy person [which I do not agree with!] These are not things we are talking about- a simple ‘reproductive right’ of a woman. While I’m glad that there are free clinics and other outlets for women to find health care- and yes- reproductive health care does matter. It’sjust not rightto categorize another human life as a simple matter of a woman’s reproductive right- that child [in many cases a young girl] has rights too.
 THE APOSTLE-
Got up early yesterday and decided to take a drive thru the old towns that I used to drive thru on my way to work. I used to pass up this historic community, German Catholics [the name of the town is Violet] but I never stopped to check out the little area where they live. They still have the original historic church they built in 1906- it’s closed down but it sits right next to a more modern one. It was cool seeing this old community- though I drove past it hundreds of times- it was nice to finally stop.
As I continued my tour I hit Robstown- another town I have driven past lots- have also been there lots of times as well. As I drove thru the main street I saw a few Pentecostal Revival tents set up- the signs had various bible verses on them. I also noticed some signs along the main road that simply said ‘Robstown for Jesus’. I of course didn’t mind seeing it- but I had the sense that some of the ‘more refined’ locals probably cringe at seeing the signs right off their main road. Often times Real Estate people don’t appreciate anything that might turn off a potential buyer.
I finished my tour by heading back to Corpus. I thought about the movie The Apostle [Duvall]. It’s oneof my favorites- Duvall sort of documents the experience of a typical southern Pentecostal preacher who winds up killing his wife’s new boyfriend by accident. The story line traces the redemption of the titlecharacterand how he eventually gets busted and pays his dues. I heard Duvall talk about doing research for the movie and all- how he always was fascinated with the independentsouthern protestant type preachers and he had great respect for them. And I liked the overall ecumenical spirit of the movie- at one point Duvall is traveling thru an area [Louisiana?] and he sees this Catholic procession and simply says ‘they do it their way- I do it mine- but we all get the job done’.
We all have our own biases and prejudices- it’s foolish to deny that- but it helps if we simply try and view other people/groups in the best possible light. Sure- at the end of the day we will still have our disagreements, but we might also learn from each other. I remember when first reading thru the bible and attending one of Duvall’s type churches- one of the big verses we hit on was when Jesus says ‘don’t call any man on earth Father- for you have one Father- God’. We used to use this one to blast Catholics. Was Jesus talking about Catholics? Besides the fact that officially the church really didn’t exist yet- we also read the apostle Paul referring to himself as Father when writing the Corinthian church- he says ‘you have ten thousand teachers but I am your father in the gospel- I begat you thru the gospel’. Paul was the ‘spiritual Father’ of the Corinthian church [community]. Paul was an Apostle and the gift of an Apostle is like being a spiritual father.
So what gives- was Paul violating Jesus’ teaching? In the 1st century when Jesus was speaking you had the Jewish religion- Judaism- that had splintered into various sects [groups]. You could say ‘I follow rabbi so and so’ these different sects- and those who adhered to them- were said to be under the Father [Rabbi] of that school. In essence Jesuswas simply rebuking the Party spirit- that thing that Paul himself rebuked the Corinthians for. Some of them said they followed Paul, others Apollo’s, etc. So a little bit of historical context- and we have our answer. But as a new believer who was zealous for the bible- I really had not time for all that stuff- I justread ‘don’t call anyone Father’ and that was that.
My short ride was enlightening- I saw the historicGerman community who brought their faith to this continent over a hundred years ago- sure they have ‘their way’ of doing it- like Duvall said. I also saw the Pentecostal revival meeting- with the classic tent and all [just like in Duvall’s flick] and they were proudly proclaiming Christ. Some feel we need to rid society of all vestiges of religious faith- they look to radical Islam- or to the Pro Lifer’s and say ‘we just need to get rid of the whole bunch’. One of the most popular thinkers of the last century was a man by the name of John Paul Sartre- he followed in the field of thinkers that are referred to as Existentialist’s. Sartre was an atheist- though the ‘father’ of existentialism was a Christian [SorenKierkegaard- 1800’s].
Existentialism is a philosophy that says there is more than just head knowledge- pure rationalistic approaches to God and life. Kierkegaard wrote his famous book Fear and Trembling- he talked about how when God told Abraham to offer his son as a sacrifice- that Abraham had to rise above pure rational thought [God says ‘don’t kill’ and yet he’s asking me to kill my son]. Kierkegaard says true faith rises above rational thought and embraces God in an experiential way.
Sartre wrote a few books too. Titles; Nausea, No Exit, Being and Nothingness. He was famous for saying ‘Man is a useless passion’. Jesus warned of the danger of looking to human systems and saying ‘father’ that is choosing any system of man [like atheism] over and above the Fatherhood of God. You might be part of the Catholic community of Violet that brought their faith to the area over a century ago- or maybe your more comfortable ‘under the tent’ with my Pentecostal friends- either way the job gets done. But you do need to find a ‘tent’ a community that embraces the reality of God- because if you place yourself outside the tent- then according to Sartre- you are a useless passion.
 WILL RUSSIA INVADE ISRAEL?-
I remember one of the first sermons I preached as a young kid who recently started reading the bible and learning all there was to learn. The message was on the ‘Future invasion of Israel by Russia’. I had heard some radio preacher offer a book on the subject and I ordered/read the book and I became familiar with the words ‘GOG- MAGOG’ that were recorded in the old testament book of Ezekiel.
The reference is to a region- north of Israel- where a future invasion will come down and wipe out [attempt] Israel. So as a sincere kid preacher [maybe 20 years old?] I preached with all the gusto I had- I referenced all the passages- till this day I’ll never forget that was the 1st time I looked on a world map and noticed that Moscow was indeed directly north of the land of Israel.
I covered all the passages well for a new kid on the block- my Pastor [a great and good man by the way] complemented me on the study that went into the message and for the most part I covered the classic view of dispensational theology that predicts a future natural kingdom on earth- run out of Jerusalem- where Jesus will literally sit on a throne and head up natural Israel [just a note- I too believe in the literal return of Christ- the 2nd coming].
These last few months we have seen some shakeup in the world of Liberal versus Conservative cable wars. First we saw the sudden departure of Keith Olberman [my favorite Liberal] and then- like a major earthquake- Beck announced he will be leaving Fox news at the end of the year. I was surprised to see Beck go.
On one of the last shows he did, before he had a fill in take over this last week [or maybe more?] Beck was doing one of his blackboard scenarios and he managed to get to the verse about Gog and Magog [my famous sermon!]. He hit it fast- mentioned the reference found in the book of Revelation [my reference was the one in Ezekiel] and he of course said how Russia was more than likely presently aligning itself for this future biblical event.
Since the early days of my becoming a reader of the bible- I have grown in my understanding of these various portions of the bible. While there are still many sincere bible Christians who read these passages as a future event- most scholars see them thru an historical framework. For instance in the Old Testament it is true that on more than one occasion the nation of Israel was attacked by invaders from the north- and these were seen as judgments from God on a rebellious nation. The language of ‘invaders from the north’ came to be understood as a reference to Gods judgment. Like today when you see ‘the south’ [confederate] versus the ‘north’- when dealing with the Americancivil war- you see it means more than just those who now live in the North or South- it’s talking about ideology- the politics of a situation- not just a geographical region.
So you could very well read these passages in this way- that is the invasion Ezekiel spoke about can refer to one of the many that did occur during Israel’s past history- and today it speaks more about Gods judgment on nations/people who disobey- and less about a geopolitical struggle that is still to play itself out on the map- got it?
When covering these issues it is important to realize that when we read the bible we need to read it in context- it’s not totally loony to take these verses the way Beck does- many bible believers do- but I think the approach I just gave you is more than likely the best approach [though it’s not the mostpopular as measured by the end times books that are best sellers in the present day].
Everybody has a point of view- it’s important to try our best to frame these passages of scripturein keeping with the broader themes of mercy and Gods love for mankind- as seen in scripture- while doing our best to interpret the broader meaning of these passages. We live in a day where many ancient cultures are in turmoil- some of the names of these nation states are mentioned in the bible [Syria, Egypt, Israel, etc.] this makes it all the more important that we try our best NOT to simply associate all the present people groups who live in these nations with the actual militaristic prophecies about them in scripture- often times the biblical references are speaking about historical events that already took place on the battlefields of the past- and they are not necessarily speaking about these people groups who live in the land today. The gospel of Jesus rises above the ethnic/geographical divisions of the past- all people are made one in Christ.
The previous chapter in Ezekiel [37- GOG is in 38] gives a wonderfulpicture of Ezekiel holding a stick in his hand- God tells him to write the names of Israel and Judah on the stick [these were the divided tribes of Israel at the time] and God says they will become one in the prophets hand- God will gather them together and set his tabernacle in their midst and they will be reconciled before God as one ‘new man’. This is the language used by the apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians- Paul says in Christ the ethnic/national divisions are broken down and we become one new man in Christ.
In truth these verses are really speaking about the ultimate purpose of God in reconciling all humanity thru the Cross- thru Jesus Christ- it’s sad that many have used them[including myself] to cause division.
 LESSON FROM A MUSLIM-
I read a story in my local paper yesterday- there was an ecumenical dinner held this week between Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Christian staff writer who attended shared how it helped her to overcome previous prejudices that she had. She told what the various speakers discussed and I was particularly impressed with what the Muslim speaker said- she talked about how true religion is not performance, putting on a show- but is expressed in reaching out to those in need- the poor and hurting.
In fact she was basically quoting the New Testament book of James- James says ‘pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows and to stay clean from the world’. A few weeks back one of my homeless buddies stopped by- he’s basically a genius when it comes to the bible- I mean it’s sort of an autisticthing to be honest- he knows- by memory- much more than the average preacher. As I visited with Henry I gave him the latest bible studies that were sent to me over the last few months. Years ago I heard a N.J. Jewish preacher- who pastors a Messianic congregation in Lodi, N.J.- he had a short radio show on the same station I’m on- and as a courtesy I sent him some of my books and told him hi and all- being I’m a former Jersey brother and all. Ever since he has sent me these really great bible studies every month.
The studies are really in depth- and he usually only sends them to partners [those who support his ministry with money]. But I guess he appreciated my sending him a nice note and he forever put me on the list. Now- I’m an avid reader- I’ve read just about everything you can get your hands on- but these past few years I’m trying to stick with scholarly stuff- not that I’m ‘too good’ for the basic stuff- It’s just I really don’t have the time to just read tons of stuff that’s in the category of ‘devotional’ material- stuff that just kind of talks about Christian things.
So I hate to throw the stuff out- Imean they’re great bible studies. I don’t want to write Jonathan [the pastor] and say ‘take me off your list’- so I save them up and give them to Henry- he devours them and even quotes them back to me the next time I see him. So anyway we had a good talk. Somehow we got into discussing the book of James [the verse I quoted above]and I told Henry how it’s funny that James [we believe this letter in the New Testament- called James- was written by the James who was Jesus’ brother- mentioned about in the bible. He was the same James mentioned as one of the leaders in the church at Jerusalem in the book of Acts, chapter 15. To my Catholic friends- it might sound strange ‘Jesus had a brother?’ these words are found in the New Testament. Catholic teachers don’t deny this- they just interpret it to mean ‘cousin’ or near relative- some say its speaking of ‘Christian brother’. Don’t want to debate it- just thought I should mention it].
Anyway- I told Henry how it’s strange that one of the key leaders in the early church- who was closer to Jesus than all the other disciples [he lived in the same house] that he would write such a scathing indictment against the rich- and he would defend the poor so strongly. James’ letter is one of the strongest rebukes against the rich that you will find in the bible. Anyway Henry agreed with me- of courseHenry’s poor- homeless- but he knows his stuff. He said ‘you know John- as true as you are- you never hear this from the famous pulpits in America’. He was agreeing with what the Muslim lady said at the dinner- that true religion is not fame and glory- but serving those in need.
I liked the spirit of the article I read- It does not mean I will not continue to advocate for the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus- that Jesus is truly the only way to God. Pope Benedict has also come under some heat for saying the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is the only way of salvation- to which I agree.
Yet at the same time- as we make our case to our Muslim and Jewish friends- we can also sit down with them- live as citizens of the same community with them- and even learnsomething from them every now and then.
NOTE- To any of my friends who might be ‘rich’. The early church did have certain individuals who were rich- and it was oaky. The person who gave his grave spot to Jesus- Joseph of Arimathea- was rich. Also in the books of Acts there were believers who sold their realestate and dedicated the money to the church. So the bible doesn’t just outright condemn those who are rich- but there are many warnings against being rich in ‘this world’ while forgetting to build riches in the kingdom [works of love and charity]. That’s the main theme of James’ letter.
 THE LAST MEAL-
Let’s try and cover the Passover story today. Being we are in Holy Week I thought the story- and what it means- would be helpful. In the Old Testament we read the story in the book of Exodus. Those of you who are not bible readers, just think of Charlton Hesstonin the classic movie ‘the 10 commandments’.
The history is the Jewish people were living in Egypt for around 430 years and Pharaoh was oppressing them. They were in bondage- literally- they were the slave work force of the nation. The people cry out to God and God sends them a deliverer [savior]. Moses was ‘secretly’ a Jew- though brought up in Pharaohs house [like Jesus- many do not recognize his real identity- Messiah].
Moses is used by God to judge Egypt. God sends 10 plagues on the nation and the last plague was the worst. Moses told Pharaoh if you do not free the people God will cause all the 1st born children to die. The oldest son in each house would die- from Pharaohs house to the lowest slave. Now- how did the Jewish people escape this judgment? God told Moses to tell the people the night before the judgment- they were to take a lamb and kill it and eat it [not the blood]and put the blood over the door posts- sort of in the sign of the Cross- the blood went on top and on the 2 sides of the doorway. And when the Death Angel passes thru Egypt- when God sees the blood he will ‘pass over’ that house- Walla- that’s where the name Pass Over comes from.
Now- sure enough the plague happened and Pharaohs oldest died as well as the oldest child in all the Egyptian homes. Pharaoh calls Moses and they say ‘quick go- get the h-ll out- before we all die’. The bible says they urged them to go. Well you know the rest of the story.
Now after this great deliverance God tells the people to keep this event as an everlasting memorial- a holiday for the rest of their lives. So for over 3400 years [give or take a few] the Jewish people have kept this feast. Now, when Jesus came on the scene in the 1st century- as a good Jewish boy he too kept this feast. The Feast itself was called the Feast of Unleavened Bread- but it is also referred to as the Passover feast. Technically the Passover meal kicks off the Feast.
So Jesus arrives in the 1st century and John the Baptist recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah who was to come. John calls him The Lamb of God at his baptism in the Jordan. So Jesus carries out his Messianic ministry with his men and he does all these wonderful miracles- raising the dead- multiplying the loaves and fish- you know the story. But every now and then he drops these weird hints- things that totally confuse the disciples. One time he says ‘now I go to Jerusalem to be crucified as it was foretold’ and Peter says ‘no way Lord- God forbid it’. Jesus replies ‘get behind me satan- for you care more about the things of men then the things of God’.
It’s interesting to note that this rebuke of Peter came right after his great confession of Jesus as the Christ. So Jesus drops hints [and open messages!] that he will die for the nation/world. Even the Jewish high priest at the time said ‘it is expedient that one man die for the nation instead of the whole nation being judged’. This is recorded inJohn’s gospel and John says the priest was prophesying the truth- though the priest thought he was speaking politically- that the death of Jesus would get the heat off of them for the time being- yet the priest did not realize what he was truly saying.
So as the events of ‘Holy Week’ draw near- Jesus takes his men and they go to a special place to have one last meal with Jesus- the famous Passover meal. Jesus says he really looked forward to this meal with his men. Now, Jesus knows that he himself is the fulfillment of all the slain lambs that have come down thru the centuries. He sits with his men and takes the bread and says ‘this is my Body that is broken for you’ and he takes the cup of wine and says ‘This is my Blood’.
Now- today I want to share something I never heard taught before- so to all my blog readers you might get in on a cutting edgetruth. In the Jewish religion they did not drink the blood- most bible teachers know why this is- the bible says the life of the flesh is in the blood. So when Jesus told them in John’s gospel ‘unless you drink my Blood and eat my flesh you have no life’ this was ahighly offensive statement to the Jewish mind- many followers walked away at that point [John chapter 6]. So the significance of the Old Testament prohibition on drinking blood was in fact pointing to a future Lamb [Jesus] whose Blood you could drink- or it was saying in symbol form ‘look- the life is in the blood- therefore you will not have true life until the day comeswhen you will drink the blood of a Lamb- the Lamb of God’ got it? [note- most bible teachers know this- I just never read anyone make the connection that the reason blood was prohibited to drink was because there would be a future day when Blood would be accepted- the prohibition was to point to this very thing!]
So Jesus eats the Passover with his men and he readies himself for the Cross. Our Jewish friends [Pope Benedict refers to them as our elder brothers] celebrate this great meal to this day. Christians celebrate its fulfillment every Sunday as churches all across the world hold communion services. To my Catholic friends- this is what the priest quotes at every Mass. Around 3400 years ago Moses told the people if they put the blood on the door they would be saved- the judgment would Pass Over them- all these years later we still have the promise of the Blood of Jesus.
As this Holy Week progresses- many Christians will attend church this Sunday- some are like The Donald- they attend on Christmas and Easter- but still- thank God they go! Whatever group you are in- pay special attention to the communion meal- mediate on the importance of what the meal means- enter in to the reality of Jesus being our Pass Over sacrifice [1st Corinthians 5] and remember the words of Jesus in John chapter 6 ‘Moses did not give you the real bread of God from heaven- you ate the Manna under Moses-and died. Whoever eats my Bodywill live forever’ Hail to the King.
 THE ARAB SPRING-
This week the president took some criticism for identifying the struggle going on in the Arab/Muslim world with the struggle for freedom that the Jewish people experienced- and commemorate during this Passover season. The president- who celebrates the Passover meal- said that the present Arab struggle for freedom- what is sometimes referred to as The Arab Spring, is much like what the Jews went thru when they too felt oppressed by their leaders many years ago. I actually just did an entire study along these same lines [Insights from a Revolution].
The president’s critics tore into him ‘how dare he compare a radical Muslim terror campaign with the honest struggle of the Jewish people’. Beck had John Hagee [the famous Pastor out of San Antonio] on his show- as well as a Rabbi and another Israeli official- they discussed the subject of God being on the side of the geopolitical decisions of Israel- and how the Arab/Muslim world just want to ‘kill everybody else’.
Hagee offered his friendship to the Rabbi- stating ‘though we disagree on who the Messiah is [no small disagreement!] yet we can still overlook our differences and work together’.Now- I would simply ask- why not take this position with the Muslim/Arab world too? The difference that Hagee was willing to ‘gloss over’ with his Jewish friends is quite a leap- though I too agree with it- that is even though our Jewish friends do not embrace Jesus as the Messiah- yet we should love them as Jesus commanded- and fight for their rights as a people.
We should also extendthis hand of friendship- as much as possible- to the Arab world. ‘What- are you nuts- don’t you know the Koran has verses in it that are incompatible with Christian doctrine’- actually I do know this- but that ‘incompatibility’ is just as severe- doctrinally- as saying Jesus is not the Messiah. According to the Apostle John- this denial is the worst doctrinal denial one can make [Johns 1st letter found in the New Testament ‘if anyone denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah- come in the flesh- he is anti Christ’].
Okay- the point? Why couldn’t Beck, Hagee, and the other multitudes simply give this same benefit of the doubt to the Muslim world? In Genesis chapter 16 we read the actual history of the Arab/Muslim world- yes it’s in our bibles. Sarah [Abraham’s wife] tells her husband to sleep with her maid Hagar and have a son. Sarah was barren and this was an acceptable thing at the time to do- sort of like a surrogate mother type thing. After the maid gets pregnantthere arises tension and jealousy in the home and Abraham says ‘look- she’s your maid- do what you want’ and Sarah kicks her out and the maid winds up crying in the wilderness..
God sends an angel to talk with her and God promises her that her son- Ishmael [the father of the Arab/Muslim people- who is also the son of Abraham- the father of the Jewish people!] will become a great people and that the son- Ishmael- will be a wild man and he will be at war with all the nations around him and all the nations will fight with him. Now- does this history sound accurate to you? Does the Christian bible say God is the one who multiplied this group of people? If these things are true- and recorded in our Christian bibles- why not at least give them the same chance as our Jewish brothers?
Look- I am not advocating glossing over the serious doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity- but the Evangelical community- for the most part- has managed to ‘gloss over’ a pretty major doctrinal difference with our Jewish friends- why not with Muslims? I mean as people who live together on the same planet- as people whom God said ‘I am the one who increased them’ surely we can take these same verses and use them as a bridge- to bridge some serious gaps for sure- but a possible bridge that God has given us- in our bibles- that states that God himself is concerned with the Arabworld and the present ‘war’ between Ishmaeland all the nations around him- well that too was recorded in God’s plan.
 THE CHINGALINGS-
Got an email the other day from one of my old buddies who I haven’t heard from in a few years. He musthavegoogledmy name and found the blog site- it’s not hard to find me being my name is on a lot of the posts that I publish.
He was surprised to have heard that I retired; he used to call me up alot over the years when I was at the fire house. We grew up together in N.J. and he was one of the friends I always kept in touch with. He told me that a mutual friend was still in prison [Rahway, N.J.]I told him ‘yeah- I know’ I have been writing him in prison ever since he first told me about it a few years back.
He finally sent me the ‘rap sheet’ I knew our friend was doing time for a serious offense, just never knew the whole story. As I read the link I pictured in my mind the whole scene. They pulled up to some house on 70 something street- late at night. The owner was a 73 year old salvage yard owner. My friend had done business with him being he too owned a trucking business. As my friend waited in the Getaway car- his cousin [who I also knew]and another guy go upstairs and knock on the door- he answers ‘who is it’ they reply ‘PSG & E’ [I guess the name of the utility co. in Jersey- I grew up in Jersey but never paid a utility bill]. The guy says ‘one minute’ and as ‘he’ unlocksthe door they rush in- to find the cops waiting in the apt. They were set up.
The case showed how they had plastic restraints and duct tape and all the stuff you would need to kidnap someone. They basically were there to rob the guy- he supposedly had a safe with lots of money in it- instead they got busted. As I read the case- the wife’s testimony [I knew her since I was a kid too- they were together since ‘way back then’] I could hear her voice- reading my friends testimony- the story he came up with- I knew I was hearing my friend. It was sad- yet I felt like I was there.
One time this friend stopped by my house in Jersey ‘hey John- let’s take a ride to the shore’. Sure- where did you get the car? [Nice new Nova] ‘I found it- it was just sitting there with the keys in it’ sure enough I went. We had a few incidents take place where he owed me some money- one night I was at the carnival with another friend and I said ‘if I see so and so tonight- its over!’
Sure enough my friend spots him a little while later and I got into a severe fight with him. The next day I found out he had to go to the hospital and his family pressed charges against me- and his ‘biker friends’ [from Fort Lee- young guys- all our age] were gonnaget me. I joined the Navy a few days later.
Over the years I always tried to ‘convert’ my buddies- the first time back after this incident [maybe a couple of years later?] I hooked up with these old friends- my one friend [geez- I don’t want to use their names] the friend that I didn’t get in the fight with- he said ‘John- so and so still holds a grudge, maybe you better not get in touch with him’ I just blew it off- we got together and nothing happened. I felt bad- he did have some scars from the incident a few years earlier.
I have always tried to stay in touch with these old friends- I have made lots of friends thru the years- guys who have gone to prison- involved in bad stuff- yet lots of them do actually get into the bible- seek God- and many of them do come around.
I have always had sincere friends say ‘John- maybe your taking too many risks by being around these guys’. I have had a few good friends tell me this recently about my friends contact with these Muslim groups on facebook ‘John-you never know if these guys are terrorists or what’ I hear them- yet the ‘risk’ of possibly having a ‘secret’ terrorist friend on the net- well that’s really not something I worry about- plus- these guys do read my posts, what more could I ask for?
I haven’t heard from my friend in prison for around 8 months now- he was real happy to write- he asked for some radio tapes from my programs- I sent him a bunch- he was grateful- shared them with the brothers in jail [the way my buddy was- always scamming someone- I wouldn’t put it past him to have sold the tapes!]. The charges against him were attempted kidnapping and robbery. They caught him because the plan was hatched with a biker gang out of the South Bronx [N.Y.] and they had an undercover informant in the gang. The gang are called the Chingalings, I saw an A&E special on them years ago- never knew my friend [or his cousin] were in the gang.
So anyway hopefully I’ll hear from him again- I saved the address [I used to never save the addresses of my friendswho I wrote to in prison- I have been writingthe brothers for years- teaching them stuff-one on one, like the blog- but I would simply get the address from the next letter- this time I thought I should save one of the envelopes- so sure enough I have his Rahway address- his prison number and all].
One time I got an email from a friend- a girl I grew up with- she read the blog and said something like ‘gee- I like the blog John- and I know you are always challenging us to go out and help people like you do- but I’m not like you- I can’t get with all these convicts’. I emailed her back ‘PLEASE- DON’T GETWITH CONVICTS!’ I had to explain to her that she shouldn’t take my blog challenges the wrong way- I never meant for the average homemaker to go out and meet with the Chingalings!
Yet I do try and challenge myold buddies- guys who have done time in prison- ex drug addicts and all- I do often tell them ‘hey guys- don’t forget where you came from- there are still others like you that need someone to go and take a chance on them- like I did with you’. All in all I’m sure God’s will will get done. Anyway it was good to hear from one of my old buddies- he’s not on Facebook- I searched for him when I first got on- I told him that would be the best place to keep in touch. Either way it’s importantto make an effort- even if its small- to try and help out your friends- you might have to take some risks- but in the end it will be worth it.
 I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE-
The other night I had a weird dream- 2 young guys showed up at my door. They rang the bell and as I opened the door one of the boys said ‘John, do you remember me’. Now- to be honest this has happened lots thru out my life. At the Fire House I would often show up for shift in the morning and the off going shift would say ‘John- one of your convict buddies stopped by yesterday’ [they eventually caught on that lots of the guys I worked with at the jail/prisons knew where they could find me when they got out- and they figured they would catch me at the Fire House].
So stuff like this has happened lots-and there are times when I simply don’t remember who the guy’s are- if you give a bible study 5 years previously- they might remember you- but you might not remember them. So in my dream I told the kid [around 19 years old] ‘to be honest I don’t really remember you- just a little’ [Yes- I admit at times I have said ‘yeah- I think’ just so I wouldn’t offend the brothers].
The boy tells me that I did indeed help him and he won’t forget it. So I fellowshipped a little while. Then the boy asks a strange request ‘John- will you draw me a picture’. Sure- it seemed like something a young boy would ask- but why not. So I drew a picture of the beach and us just sitting there- like Father and son- and he asked me to sign it for him. I gave him the simple request and he seemed like a little boy getting a present from his dad. He talked a little more and as he began to leave he told me his name. He said ‘I’m Texas Ruiz’. And he left.
As I woke up [around 3 a.m.] I didn’t think too much about it. As I started the coffee, getting ready to go in the yard to pray. I remembered who Texas Ruiz was. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I pray for the cases I see in the paper- or on the news- the severe cases of crimes that have been committed. I have a wall of names [around 30 or so] that I paint the names of these people on. They will forever be on my prayer list- so I try and pick cases where the criminal [or victim] has a long lasting result/penalty- so as I pray for them over the years they can benefit from it.
One of the cases was a local one- here in Corpus Christi. The stepdad called 911 and his stepson [around 1 year old] had died. At 1st they thought it was from some natural cause- then they found out the step dad abused the boy and he died from this abuse. I saw the boy on T.V. a lot- being it was local. As Protestants we usually don’t pray for the people who have died- but I actually have felt the Lord challenge me about this over these last few years- and I do pray for the victims sometimes, even though they are dead. When I saw the boy on TV I would just raise my hand towards him and pray that God would be with his soul- I felt real bad for the kid. I did this a few times over about a week. I felt like a ‘dad’ to the kid- just praying for him. The boys name was Texas Ruiz.
There is a verse in Ezekiel 37- God says ‘in the day I raise you up and bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know that I am God’. I wrote this verse down on an ongoing journal type thing- every week I add whatever verse/book I’m studying from- whatever I feel might be significant. So I stuck this verse on the top of the page. A few days went by and I wrote the dream on the same page- I felt it was significant so I wrote it down.
After a few days- while reviewing the page- I saw that on the top it said ‘in the day I bring you back from the grave’ and in the dream- yes one of ‘our people’ didcome back- it freakedmeout.
In John’s gospel, chapter 11, we read of the story ofJesusraising Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters- Martha and Mary- are good friends of Jesus. They lived in a little town named Bethany [the name of my oldest daughter] and for the Jewishpeople to openly embrace Jesus at the time- it was a sacrifice. Many of the religious leaders already had turned against Jesus.
So one day Lazarus gets real sick and the sisters send word toJesus ‘Lazarus- your friend- is sick’. Now- Jesus is going all over the place- healing sick people- opening blind eyes- multiplying bread and fish. I mean the sisters must have thought ‘well- at least all the flack we’ve taken over openly befriending Jesus will finally pay off’. But when Jesus hears about Lazarus the bible says he purposefully waited 2extra days before heading towards Bethany.
Now- after a few days Lazarus did indeed die. The sisters are mad- ‘wow- he healed all these others- strangers- yet no time for us’. When he gets to the outskirts of town Marthagoes out to see him ‘Jesus- why didn’t you come? You could have prevented this from happening’. Eventually Mary says the same thing to him. Jesus tells them ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.
The sisters only saw Jesus thru the lens of ‘why didn’t you fix the problem when it was still possible’ Jesus was saying ‘it’s still possible’. He was telling them‘Just because the thing you thought I would do- in life- didn’t happen yet- I can still overcome the devastation that it has caused you’. Jesus of course will raise their brother- it becomes a huge miracle tothe point where the religiousleadersconspire to kill Lazarus too- because so many Jewish people begin believing in Jesus because of this miracle.
In Ezekiel 37 God told Ezekiel [and the nation of Israel] ‘in the day I bring you back from the dead- in that day you will know I am God’. Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. A real event that took place in time and has stood the test of historical examination [too much to cover right now- but take my word for it- the evidence is overwhelming].
Sometimes we are like the sisters of Lazarus- we expected God to prevent the disaster from happening ‘Lord- if you were here this would not have happened’. The test of faith is to continue to believe- even on the other side of the disaster. The problem with Mary and Martha was they felt like Jesus simply did not come thru in time- they heard all these great stories about how Jesus helped all these others- yet they sat at home- with a dead brother and a funeral to attend.
Today I want to challenge you- are you like the sisters? Did God not prevent the disaster from happening? Did he not do for you what he did for the others? You might not see the ultimate ‘healing’ until the resurrection- the ‘last day’- but be assured- in the day he raises you from the dead- you will know that he is God.
 JESUS CHRIST- SUPERSTAR?
The other night I caught the classic movie/musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber- Jesus Christ Superstar. I remember seeing it as a kid [it came out in 73] and I remember that there was some controversy over it. The intro on the Classic channel also talked about the controversy. Whenever a movie comes out depicting the life of Jesus [The Last Temptation of Christ] there usually is some type of protest about it.
As I watched Superstar I saw a few scenes that Christians might see as problematic- but overall I liked it. The things that Christians usually protest are the scenes that show Jesus as a man- tempted the same way all men are tempted- by women! That is- some of the movies depict Jesus as getting too close to Mary Magdalene and even having slept with her.
Now- believers most definitely reject the sleeping part- that did not happen. But was it possible for Jesus [and Mary] to have ever been tempted to be in love? I think so- the bible clearly says that Jesus was tempted in every way, just like us- yet he never sinned [Hebrews, 1st John]. So what’s the big deal if one of the temptations- which he never gave in to- was falling in love with Mary?
The point being- we seem to feel uncomfortable with the biblical doctrine of Jesusbeingtempted at all- we prefer to overlook the verses that show Jesus was in a great struggle. In Psalms 22- the writer prophesies of Jesus- he says ‘deliver my soul from the mouth of the lion- I call to you from the horns of the unicorns’ it shows a sense of desperation- a sense of Jesus in the gardenpraying- sweating great drops of blood ‘if it’s possible God- let this thing go away!’
I went to church Easter morning- I on and off attend a mega church here in the city- it’s the 15th fastest growing church in the country [they like to let people knowthe numbers/statistics a lot] and they average around 7 thousand attendees every weekend. I like the church- it’s a good church. Now, it just so happened that they did mention statistics this day- I felt like they wanted to show the people what they were doing with the money- kind of justify giving to the church- all okay things. As someone who has been around the block- experienced and studied church doctrine [called Ecclesiology- the word Ecclesia is the Greek word for church in our bibles] I have seen how easy it is to view church from the standpoint of getting the right amount of people to ‘join’ so you could have the right amount of money to carry out the church’s mission. Often times the well meaning pastors are influenced by the peer pressure to meet certain criteria and they unwittingly descend into a numbers game ‘gee- if I can just get so many more- who ‘join’ [which means they give 10 % of their money to the church] then I could accomplish so much’.
In the New Testament days you had what was called ‘Oral Tradition’ that is many of the early churches spread the message of Jesus by word of mouth. After a period of time [around 15-30 years- depending on whose numbers you use] these Oral Traditions were put down in writing [the gospels]. You also read how the apostle Paul sent letters to the churches he was working with- and he would say ‘have this letter read among you’. Why not say ‘pass it around and let everyone read it’? There were many early believers who were illiterate- so you had a designated ‘reader-lecturer’ handle the job.
The point being- when you had an increase ofpeople who wanted to hear the message [from Paul or anyone else] you did not have the messenger go out and build huge buildings so everyone in the town could cram in on Sunday and hear Paul [or Jesus]. Instead you had a natural growth take place as people spread the message- that’s how the church grew.
As someone who has written and said much about this over the years [read mysection ‘What in the world is the church’] I don’t want to get into the whole thing today- just wanted to say we in the west like seeing Jesus as a famous person- a ‘superstar’ if you will- we like putting him on a stage and seeing him perform. We like it so much we try and emulate this very aspect of what we see as ‘ministry’. Jesus was a real man [and really God] who was tested like all men- he never sinned- but the tests were real. Today we see him seated at the right hand of the father- in his glory- but first came the tests.
Jesus told his men ‘you are the ones who stuck with me all thru the trials- you endured. Therefore I give to you a kingdom- just like I went thru trials and my father has given me a kingdom’. Yes- Jesus has acquired superstar status in the Western world- the American churches seem to focus on that aspect much- yet the psalmist- speaking for Jesus- said ‘save me my darling from the mouth of the lion- the bulls are all around me- my skin sticks to my bones- I am in torment and my soul is at the point of death- help me’ we seem to forget this aspect of the superstar.
 MEET THE NEW CHAMP- HE’S THE SAME AS THE OLD CHAMP-
It’sbeen a while since I’ve talked about my buddies at the fire house- so let me add a post to the legend.
Like I’ve said before- at the fire house we had a majority Hispanic group- as a White boy I was in the minority. Yet many of my best buddies were Mexican- and to be honest the fights/disagreements were hardly ever race based- we would joke about race- but when there were disagreements it was political [union stuff].
But yes- we would joke- lots. One day I was working with a white brother at the substation [called station 2]. There were only 2 of us on duty at that station- my friend has a white sounding name- he was a Yankee like myself who came south when his family moved here as a boy. I hear him on the phone one day- he was calling back to check up on a free credit card offer that some company kept calling him about.
You could tell that he really didn’t care that much about the offer- but they kept calling him [or writing?] to offer the thing. So as he’s on the phone I hear him giving his last name- he starts getting mad- you can hear it in his voice. He’s telling them ‘no- that’s not how you say my name- it’s $#@% not %$@#!’. They obviously mistook him for being Mexican- they were pronouncing his very white last name with a Hispanic slant.
Well, as he hung up the phone- you could see he was mad. I asked him ‘what’s up’ he of courseknew it was too late to cover the incident up- so he tells me that the offer was only for Mexicans- even though they personally hounded him for months. I mean it was funny- I couldn’t stop laughing.
One more- Over the years at the fire house you do stuff to kill the monotony. So one year the guys got into doing arm wrestling competitions. Now- as ayounger kid- in the earlier days at the fire house- I got into all sorts of competitions- pushups, chin ups, etc. One day one of the young guys comes up and says out of the blue ‘John- I heard you hold the dept. record for chin ups’. I mean I must have been around 45- I guess the record went back 20 years- I had no idea who held the record! But these legends pass down [I think I did 19 chin ups- according to the Lore].
So the younger guys are all competing with each other with the arm wrestling. Now I’m about 45 at the time and I really don’t want to enter the arena at this age- you know- like a George Foreman thing. But I’m finally persuaded and for some reason I wind up beating the top guy and get the title- it was funny- I would just show up to work and some young kid from another shift would just be there- waiting to challenge. I had a friend who would get a kick out of how the guys wanted to just challenge me out of the blue.
One day I walk in- and the other guy is just there- with his arm in the challenge position- like he was waiting all night for the big show. So as my buddy starts laughing ‘hey John- you got another challenger’ I walk over to the counter- and in about 2 seconds he goes down- I mean it was shameful to be honest. Even his buddy that put him up to it was mad ‘Darn Joe- you went down like a woman!’
So after a while the former champ- Mike- who was a top competitor- Mike weighed about 225, young kid, all muscle. He actually beat me a few times- and me him. It’s just the last time I won I would never give him a rematch. I mean he would beg for just ‘one more chance’. I would say ‘hey Mike- true champs don’t rematch at the drop of the dime’ and I would blow it off.
So one day- out of the blue- me and Mike are working at the sub station- and for some reason I walk into the dorm and say ‘Mike- today’s your day- let’s get it on’. I mean you could see the unbelievable joy in his face [which would soon turn to extreme sadness!] as he thought ‘here’s my chance to redeem myself’. So we sit down at the table and thematch is on. Some days you have good days- others bad. So we get intothis long match- maybe 20 minutes- and I finally do the surge- and I guess it was that 5th cup of coffee- but I could feel Mike going down. As he begins to give in- it was like slow motion- I look at Mike- and he has this extreme look ofunbelief on his face- like after all these months of wanting the re match- he cantbelieve he’s blowing it- he just looks up and with a complete look of desperations says ‘OH NOO!’ And he goes down.
I felt bad for old Mikie- he waited a long time to redeem himself-and no redemption came. I of course gave Mike the same offer that I did with a few other buddies- I said ‘Now Mike- you know the guys are gonna have to find out sooner or later- either I tell them- and if I tell them- they will hear the whole story- the desperation in your eyes as you went down- the whole 9 yards- or you make the call to the main station and fess up over the loudspeaker’.
Mike saw the writing on the wall- in a way it was sad to sit there at the sub station- to hear Mikes voiceover the loudspeaker ‘Guys- Mike’s calling from station 2- he has something to say’ and to hear the confession. Geez- if someone walked in off the street they must have thought ‘what does ‘John beat me again’ mean’? Yes- I must admit I enjoyed the thrill of victory- Mike of course would never challenge again- after a while all the challenges went away- it was me ‘the old guy’ holding the title once again- after all those years.
It was still funny to get the challenges from out of nowhere- guys you thought would never even care. One day I’m sitting in the captain’s office with the captain- a good 15 years my elder. I’m in there with my other buddy- the one who cracked up over seeing the challenges come from nowhere. We were laughing about the whole thing- how the younger guys were distraught over their losses- it was funny. All of a sudden- my captain- who has been hearing the stories for months- looks at me with a serious face- and says ‘you know John- I used to be a pretty good arm wrestler back in the day’ yes- I saw this look before- the look of courage- someone who has heard all the war stories and he thinks to himself ‘I know I can beat John’ Yes- I often saw this look- right before the arm went down.
 YOU SPENT 8 DAYS LOST AT SEA!
There’s a funny commercial running right now on the tube- you have this applicant walk in to a bank and the manager asks him some questions as he applies for a job. The boss says ‘so tell me about yourself a little’ and he begins by telling him his likes and all. One of the things he says is ‘O, I love my banks raise your rate C.D.’. The boss looks dumbfounded- he says ‘did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?’ and the applicant tries to clarify- the boss says ‘did you say you wanted a raise ASAP?’ Again- the applicant tries to make himself clear. The boss says ‘did you say you love watching your neighbors watch T.V.?’ At this point the applicant realizes no matter what he says- the boss is ‘unable’ to hear the truth.
I think it was T.S. Elliot who said ‘you can’t convince a person to accept something- especially when their job depends on them not accepting it’. Recently I have mentioned the word Ecclesiology- it’s a ten dollar word that simply means ‘the doctrine of the church’- not what the church teaches- but the actual study of what churchmeans.In the New Testament we see the church as meaning a community of people- amovement of followers if you will.
As a young kid who just started learning the bible I of course wanted to learn all I could. Ijoined a goodBaptist church [independent] and I learned the hard and fast view of the local independent church. It was often taught that the actual church building is ‘the local church’. At first I simply accepted this- but it wasn’t too long before I had some serious doubts. At this time in history there are many, many ‘former’ pastors [and some present] who have honestly re-thought the entire system of what is commonly called ‘the local church’.
Today there are entire movements- schools- ‘church groups’ who have moved more closely to the biblical idea of ‘the church’. One of the big obstacles to ‘moving closer’ is the reality that many fine men [pastors] do depend on their jobs as ‘the pastor’ and this does create difficulty in rethinking the entire idea of church.
For instance- the New Testament teaches us that the church- at heart- is a voluntary community of people. Now, these people have elders, pastors, teachers, etc. who are part of the community. But in the New Testament these positions are not hired professionals who are ‘hired’ by ‘the church’ and put on a salary. Yet at the same time the bible does teach us to support those who labor among us in the gospel. Jesus says the laborer is worthy of his hire. Paul says no mangoes to war at his own expense. These are all talking about supporting the Christian leaders among us [Priests, Pastors, etc.]
We also have Jesus teaching us that ‘freely we have received- freely give’ in context he was speaking about the spiritual gifts that God gives to us- they are not things to be sold- or charged for. So we see a balance in the bible- one side might ‘just see’ the parts they like- and so on [did you say you spent 8 days lost at sea?]
Overall God gives us leaders and teachers and pastors to help us grow and mature as believers. But many modern churches function more along the lines of ‘these people/members are here to give so much money- I carry out certain job requirements for them[weddings, funerals, etc.] and they come to hear me speak every week’. This is a very limited way to view church- it often works against the intended purpose of leadership- which is to eventually work yourself out of a job- that is the people become independent of you and they now lead others.
Overall these last 20 years many believers have seen these things in a greater way- there are lots of books and teachers who are now looking at the entire doctrine of ‘the church’ as seen in the bible- and the limited view [the building we meet at- the church as a lecture hall] is really falling away at a rapid rate.
It’s fine to ‘go to church on Sunday’ and to contribute money to the good work the churches do- it’s just we all want to learn along the way- and we don’t want to be like the bank manager who keeps hearing only what he wants to hear.
 TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON-
Yesterday was the end of an era for me- after 23 years of doing broadcast radio- I thru in the towel. I have been on radio right from the early days of ministry. I started recording my messages even earlier. In those days everything was done on cassette tape. I watched the times change over the years as I would go to the local [regional] radio station to ‘drop off tapes’- geez- thousands of times.
I would notice how most of the other ministries were converting to C.D. [also now a dinosaur] and I was still using cassettes. I would often say to myself ‘John- don’t let the devil make you feel bad- you’re not behind the times’ and I would pop in my Styx 8 track on the ride back home [okay- fudged a little on this].
Anyway I had a system going where I would record the tapes and make high speed copies- the copies would get dropped off- the originals [masters] would not. This was just in case the station lost the program- or a tape broke- you would still have the original. Well as the times changed you couldn’t even purchase [have serviced] these old tape duplicators. As an independent preacher- someone who takes no offerings or receives any financial support [because of principle- way too much money involved in today’s church] I took the risk of just dropping off the originals- and every so often they would ‘get lost’ [I think one of the employees might have enjoyed taking them home to listen to- which was alright with me- it’s just I needed them back].
So over these past few years I did my best to try and solve the problem- it never worked. The station manager- a good friend- told me he would copy the tapes to C.D.’s if I wanted- I said yeah! He never got around to doing it. He then told me he would save the programs in digital format [they put them on computer] and I would be able to copy them that way.
So the other day I finally had him make a copy to my flash drive- at least I would have them that way. I realized they weren’t even playing the right tapes [using the older- out of order stuff]. Then when I got home I realized they did indeed ‘lose’ another tape- part of a series that if you lose one [like a bible study] it ruins the whole set.
So I went and picked up the last batch of tapes and told them that I was sorry- but I had to finally cancel the show. They gave me a break on cost- but I literally spent thousands of dollars over the years doing these broadcasts- it was time to move on.
So hopefully I will soon have a link on the blog where you will be able to hear the programs [simply on line]. I found out it’s a real pain to convert the tapes to Mp3 format- then to get them on the blog. I spent the whole day yesterday messing with it- I ordered the convertor you need to do it. Then I had to start a Host site- the blog does not have space for this- and now I think I will have to get another computer- I do all my work from a laptop- I think the cord for the converterwill only work on a desk top.
As someone who is computer illiterate- for the most part- it’s frustrating to have to deal with it. Geez- just getting the Host site up took me forever. So being I was already feeling bad about going off the air- it was something I loved to do- I figured I would just get a quick News fix- in the background- as I’m trying to figure all this out on my laptop. Of course all the channels were showing the Royal Wedding- enough said.
I hate it when the news fixates on a story- or presents something silly- and they do it all day long. One time at the fire house- I was sitting there with a good buddy- we had the news on [the guys used to get mad- for real- I had the news on all the time] and sure enough the actor Lloyd Bridges died. So as I’m sitting there glancing at the screen- I tell my buddy ‘Gee Joe- you think they could show a more ridiculous photo of the poor man’- I mean they had a picture of him from one of the spoof Airplane movies- he had a towel sticking out of both ears- with a goofy face-making it look like the towel went thru his head- ear to ear.
Joe started cracking up. I mean the poor man’sgrandkids were probably saying ‘why does grandpa have a towel in his head mommy’. I mean the man had a long career- lots of serious movies- no, CNN liked the towel picture.
So for today I think I will work on the on line format some more- I do have some programs already on computer disk- trying to convert them to the host site and add the link to the blog. So for those of you who are interested you should be able to hear us on line soon- no more radio. Talk to you guys later- John
‘PRESIDENT OBAMA IS THE WORST PRESIDENT- EVER!’ Trump. ‘WE JUST KILLED BIN LADEN’ The President. ‘TRUMP APPEARS ON FOX [news] AND HE WEARS ONE ON HIS HEAD’ Seth Meyers- S.N.L fame, at the White House Press dinner. Conclusion? Trump- your fired.
These last few days have been news worthy- Obama released the birth ceritificate [though you still have doubters].NATO [and the U.S.] killed Gadhafi’s son –Saif [not the famous son by the same name- this one was younger and not as heavily involved with the regime] and his 3 grandkids- all under the banner of ‘protecting civilians’ [how killing 3 kids protects civilians is beyond me]. And of course we all rejoice in the justice brought to Bin Laden.
I found it fascinating how the left/right even use stuff like this to simply play petty games. Michael Issikoff [MSNBC] was criticizing Lynn Cheney because some of the Intel. we used to get Bin Laden came for K.S.M. [Kaliek Sheik Mohammed] during our interrogation of the guy. So those on the right said ‘see- water boarding does work- it got us the info’. And the left said ‘hold your horses Lynn’.
Issikoff said ‘we water boarded the guy 180 something times- and all we got was the nickname of the person connected to Bin Laden- geez- we didn’teven get the full name’. Are you kidding me? If someone was out to kill your family- and you ‘interrogated’ an accomplice- and he said ‘it’s the mailman’ but didn’t give you the proper name- would that not be what is called actionable intelligence?
In point of fact the left and the right are both wrong on this. The way we got the info was not during a water boarding session- it was during normal questioning. At one point the C.I.A. asked him ‘and who is so and so’ and they gave the famous nickname. K.S.M. said ‘I don’t know his name’. The C.I.A. knew that he did know- that tipped us off that the person was a valuable target- and it lead to Bin Laden [he was the courier- mailman- for Bin Laden].
All in all I’m glad they got the guy- but the pettiness of these politico’s- these guys are ruining the country- Jon Stewart is right when he calls them out for what they are. And MichaelIssikoff- he should be the last person to talk about ‘valuable- non valuable’ Intel. He is famous for writing an article stating that our soldiers flushed a Koran down the toilet at Gitmo. This article instigated worldwide Muslim uprisings that killed innocent people and put our soldiers at risk. When Pastor Terry Jones burns a Koran and it leads to innocent deaths- we rightfully condemn it. When a MSNBC hack does it- with false information[we never burned a Koran- it was misinformation that the terroriststhemselves put out- and Issikoff took the bait- and well you know the rest of the story] we let it slide.
O.K. all in all there’s been a lot going on. I don’t want to demean the importance of the Bin Laden killing- our boys [Seals] did one heck of a job- and they did it in Pakistan- a few hundred yards from a military facility [and they didn’t know he was there? Please]. And we did it without informing the Pakistani Govt. that we were going in- sounds just like an Israeli undercover op. great job. But I am concerned about the way NATO has targeted civilian areas in Tripoli- saying ‘we are not targeting Gadhafi’ baloney. We are indeed targeting him- and we killed his 3 grandkids at the same time. No- killing kids is not acceptable- no matter whose grandkids they are.
 LETTER FROM AN OLD FRIEND
The other day I mentioned how over the years I have come to ‘see’ the community of people that I speak into- those friends I have worked with on the streets and all the readers/hearers of the ministry- I have come to see them as one community. I even began to see the friends who died as still being part of the community- just because they are not physically present- they are still ‘there’.
In the letter to the Hebrews the bible says Jesus stands in the middle of the congregation and sings praises unto God. On the Mount of Transfiguration Jesus met with Moses and Elijah [2 dead saints] and Peter, James and John. The community was made up of both earthly and heavenly saints.
Okay- said all that to say this. When I first came to Texas I drove down with a good buddy I grew up with. His name was Miguel and we hung out as kids. Eventually Miguel would give his life to God [after me working with him for a few months] and I saw him as one of my 1st converts to the Lord.
I gave Miguel my first bible and got another one. Over a few years me and Mike tried to establish ourselves and our young families on this strange Texas frontier. Eventually Mike went back to Jersey. The night before he left [I drove him to the airport in San Antonio the next day- and his family]. We took a drive to Corpus Christi [where I now live- we both lived in Kingsville at the time- about 40 miles from Corpus] and spent the last night as buddies just hanging out on Padre Island- eating Whataburger’s [a great burger restaurant in Tx.] and just talking about what God had in store for the future. Actually, as I sit here and type I’m about 100 yards from the main road going straight to the Island- the same road we drove on 25 years ago.
As the years passed I would get a call from my old buddy every so often. One time Mike called to give me the news ‘John- I wanted to let you know I tested positive for Aids’- What! How’d that happen? [Probably a bad response now that I think about it]. Mike wasn’t ‘gay’ or bisexual- but he had lots of girlfriends- all the time. Back then safe sex was more of an option- and obviously Mike wasn’t toocareful. Mike told me his wife- Lu Ann- also tested positive. What a tragedy- they had 4 boys.
So of course the whole family became a regular prayer request- till this day- every morning [every!] I pray for Mikes boys. One time I came home from work and my wife said ‘John- Lu Ann called’ I said ‘Mike died’ she said yes. Mike was 32. One day I received a letter from Lu Ann- she told me how her oldest boy was a preacher now in N.J. and he was on fire for God. She wrote a nice long letter. It must have been something God wanted her to do- I will forever remember that letter.
When Mike left Texas- I got that old bible I gave him back. It was just a sentimental thing of keeping your 1st bible. Then one year I started reading from it again and found that Mike had sprinkled notes all thru out it- things like ‘ask John this’ and stuff like that. So it was cool to catch these short notes every so often. I could almost hear Mikes voice as I read the notes.
So anyway as I pray in the mornings I have a conscious sense of my old buddies who have died- lots of homeless friends- a few ex- con/addict friends- and of course Mike and Lou Ann- [I guess she’s dead by now?] So last week as I’m just asking the Lord what chapter to read. I turn to Exodus 16- and Mike had a bunch of notes on this page- stuff like ‘NOTICE THIS’ and things that were weird- like he was writing notes to me. It did freak me out- I ‘fellowship’ with Mike when I pray for the Bro’s- and sometimes it’s like Mike is saying ‘John- thanks for praying for the boys’. And then to read notes later that say ‘Notice this’ or ‘ask John this’ it’s freaky.
Okay- thatchapter dealt with God giving his people Manna- bread from heaven. It was the same week I dropped the radio program- I felt bad about doing it- but it was time. I told the Lord ‘If I messed up- sorry’. That is if I dropped it cause I was mad they kept losing the ‘darn’ tapes- then I repent. So anyway one of the verses in the chapter says ‘some peoplewent out on the 7th day- to get their daily bread- and they found none’.
I knew there were going to be lots of long time listeners- who have written- who loved the show. These would ‘go out’ on the 7th day [Actually Sunday is the 1st day- but you get the idea] and would find ‘no bread’ for the first time in 15 years of broadcasting over KCTA. Actually over these last few days I have had lots of confirmation that this was the way to go- I began putting the shows on my blog- you can now listen and download the stuff 24/7- as opposed to only being able to hear it once a week. At the broadcast rate- geez it took 5 years just to recycle some of the older messages.
So for today- we learned that those who have gone on- our spiritual brothersandsisters- they are ‘still alive’. Now the bible forbids communication with the dead, and there are lots of religious superstitions that cross the line in these areas- but at the same time we do believe in eternal life- and if God speaks tome thru the words of one of my old buddies- stuff like ‘notice this’ then who am I to not notice?
 A SURPRISE VISIT
I had a surprise visit last night- one of my original ‘church members’ stopped by to see me. Emit was the 2nd generation family, a son of one of the guys who was hooked on Heroin in the early days. Emit’s dad [Emit senior] was also part of the first group of members.
I would hold bible studies for the guys in the county jail- some were waiting for their court dates- they would do lots of time in Texas’ famous prison system- others were just doing time for minor offenses- things related to their drug addictions.
So anyway Emit Jr. was in that first group. I would pick up his dad for our church meetings [first held at an old abandoned hospital- later moved to my garage]. We had around 30 or so people who made up our little group. Mostly families of the guys I met thru the jail meetings. But every so often we had someone hear about us and they would join our group.
I remember Roy and Kathy- they were in this group of ‘normal people’. Roy was a liberal news reporter for the local paper- and Kathy was a bible college graduate. I don’t know how they found us- but they liked the bible studies I would do and they became good friends. The same with Hubert and his wife Katy.
Hubert actually taught at a regional bible school [Pan Am school/church] sponsored by the PresbyterianChurch. It was their Latin American outreach school- located in Kingsville. So we had some up-standing folk as well. As I was fellowshipping with Emit we had some good laughs. I told him now that I’m posting the radio shows on the blog that in the future I’m going to post some of the old recordings from the early days. You can hear Emits dad on these tapes.
It was funny- the guys acted like we were just hanging out at my house- even during the church meetings! Emit [Sr.] had a habit of raiding my fridge right before the meetings would start- I mean I couldn’t keep Pecan Pies away from the brother. I eventually hid the good stuff before Emit got there. Hey I loved the bro. but the Pecan Pies were not part of the deal!
Emit told me he still has a few of these tapes and he hears his dads voice on some of them- His dad has been dead for many years now. He was clean at the time- but he ruined his liver with the Heroin and it finallycaught up with him. His dad met his wife- Janie- at our little church. Janie was a single mom who had a bunch of boys- I worked with her sons and she would attend the church- Emit met Janie and sure enough they got married. They were a nice couple.
So last night Emit calls some of the other original group [geez- he had all their numbers in his phone]. So in a few hours I will be taking Emit, David [Buentello] and Henry [one of the homeless guys] to lunch in Corpus. David and Emit both work in Corpus now- they still live in Kingsville.
David too was a ‘founding member’ I met his dad while preaching at the jail-Leonard was a long time addict. Once again I met the sons thru myfriendship with the dad. David has a bunch of brothers and I met Leonard [Jr.] and Ben and a few others. David spent lots of year strung out on drugs. I must have written Dave a few hundred times over the years when he was in prison- I saw this as a ministry- keeping in touch with the brothers as they did time- lots of time- in prison. David got his degree [he started while in prison and finished after he got out. It’s a program that helps the guys get a degree with aid from the state. Texas just ended the program this year; they said ‘why should we be paying for ex con’s education for free’. As someone who has seen the good results- it really was worth it].
David has been clean for many years and he is a professional counselor working in Corpus Christi. One time I asked David to pick up the guys for our meetings the next day. Many times I was working the night before at the fire house and it helped if someone could pick the people up in the morning- it gave me a little more time to prepare for the meeting. So I gave Dave the Suburban and he had it for the night. I knew it was a risk- not that he would steal the darn thing- but be tempted to score drugs and all.
Sure enoughDavecame by the fire station early in the morning- he was fessing up- telling me he blew it and he was gonna leave the truck. I told him just because he had a bad night- I stillneeded him to finish the task and pull through. He did- he picked everyone up and attended the service.
Lots of times the guys in these situations have never had any home structure- I mean their parents love them and all- but when the dad struggles with addiction- they’re not there to support the sons. So this was training in a way for Dave.
So hopefully they will all find the restaurant [it’sright off the main drag- but I’m not sure they know the spot I was telling them]. It was funny- as Emit was leaving I walked him out to the car. He was wearing these coveralls from the auto dealer that he works for- he has this lawnmower sticking halfway out of the trunk [he was cutting yards for money after work]. And I asked him about his new girlfriend and all [Emit was married years ago to another person whose family were church members of our group. His wife, Veronica, had a few boys and one girl with Emit. They eventually divorced. One time at work we had a call for a stabbing- the person who was stabbed- Junior Perez- was another family member who I met from the jails. Junior’s younger brother- Tony- was a faithfulchurch member. His older brother- Daniel- was the one I met thru the jail. Junior was dating Veronica at the time- it was an abusive relationship- she stabbed Junior while he was trying to get into her house. She lived there with her mom- Yolanda- yes another one of our churchmembers. She killed Junior that night- no charges against her- but she would eventfullymove out of town]
So as Emits leaving I ask him about his latest girl- he says she a nice person- but its one of those situations where the family doesn’t know she’s dating him [I don’t know why- just some family thing]. Then I asked him what happened with his other girl friend- the one he dated for years ‘Oh her, they took her away from me’ [now- I know what Emit meant- her family didn’t get along with Emit and they eventually convinced her to leave Emit].Now, even though I knew what Emit meant- I was like ‘Hey bro. you show up with these work coveralls- the type you usually see on these serial killer types- you know the video of some guy kidnapping someone at the local store- and you have this ‘after hours lawnmower job’ [classic cover up for stuffing things in the trunk] and you tell me the current girl friend’s family- well they don’t know about your ‘relationship’ and the last one- well ‘they took her away’ [I mean who is they- the cops! LOL]. I said if I didn’t know any better it looks like you might have spent the last 10 years as a serial killer’!
He got a kick out of that. Okay enough for now-maybe I’ll let you know how the fellowship went tomorrow. Emit told me his youngest boy- Justin- is a full blow Heroin addict in Robstown. Geez- I just took a ride thru there the other week- felt like God wanted me to simply do a prayer drive. And now we are going to visit Justin in a few days- maybe it was a sign. Okay- please pray for my buddies and their families.
I’m glad they’re still hanging in there- but I need to try and get with them more often- hopefully today we can schedule a few morefellowship meetings- it’s been too long.
[NOTE- Dave- if you read this- just leave a quick comment on Facebook- so my friends from Jersey can see who you are- I have lots of old friends on the site- thanks]
P.S.- As Emit was giving me all the updated phone numbers of the brothers- I was writing them down in my address book/organizer- geez- as I turned to the ‘E’ page and the ‘D’ page and all- I still had the original names and numbers of their dads and all. One entry said ‘Emit/Janie’ it brought back lots of memories.
 OPEN THE BOOK AND BREAK THE SEALS
We had a good fellowship the other day- I and 2 homeless bro’s got with 2 Kingsville originals and we all ate at the Sirloin Stockade. I want to try and meet once a week for lunch in Corpus- everybody is welcome by the way. I’ll try and mention it on the sites [Blog, Facebook] a day ahead of time, and you are all invited.
I will only cover the cost of the homeless guys though- everyone else it’s Dutch. Okay- this week I have been reading revelation chapter 5. We see this image of John the apostle standing in the throne room of God and God has this book in his hand. John is upset because no one is able to open the book and loose the seals. As John is upset, one of the elders comes up to him and tells him not to worry- Jesus- the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he has prevailed to open the book and to break the seals.
The vision is you have these elders and beasts and John and a multitude of angels and people from all nations- it’s a great gathering of saints of the most high- a true picture of the people of God.
I applied the vision to our little fellowship-made up of people from all over- different ethnic backgrounds and cultures. And John the apostle is struggling with this mandate to get the message out. Remember- the book of Revelation begins with Jesus telling John ‘write these letters to the 7 churches’ so John has this task to communicate this message from God. Yet he runs up against the classic roadblock ‘Who is worthy’ in so many words ‘why did you pick me for the job- I’m not able to do it’. You hear the words of Isaiah here- Isaiah said ‘I am a man of unclean lips- in the middle of a bunch of unclean people!’ Geez Isaiah- you’re not only too hard on yourself, but everyone else!
In the Isaiah vision God takes a coal and uses it to cleanse the lips of the prophet. So John is distraught over the fact that this book is sealed- and no matter how hard he tries- he cantopen the thing. Jesus steps up to the plate and takes it and opens it. The whole community rejoices- they sing this song- a new song ‘Worthy is the lamb to open the book and to loose the seals thereof, for thou wast slain and hast redeemed us unto God by thy Blood out of every kindred and tribe and tongue and nation- and hast made us priests and kings unto God our father’. Yes, I put this verse to memory this week and sang it all thru out the week.
Sure- my wife said ‘who are you talking to’. I just blew it off- I have been talking to myself for years. So I’m identifying somewhat with John- also struggling to ‘open the book and loose the seals’. These last few weeks I dropped our radio program and was in a mad rush to get the shows on line [there on now]. But I dropped on a Friday and wanted to have them up by that Sunday.
So as I’m praying/singing the ‘new song’- kind of an intercessory thing- believing God to help us get the word out. Sure enough I sing the thing and the bell rings. That was my buddy Emit [last post] and from that surprise visit a few doors opened to get together more often with the brothers.
Of course I’m just applying these things-obviously revelation is not about eating at the big cow! But God does use stuff like this to speak to us- the principle of Jesus alone being the one who is worthy to ‘open the book’ well that’s a truism that will always be there.
Down the road I hope to teach a little more on the book of Revelation. It’s really not as hard as it might look. Basically you have the command of Jesus to John to write the 7 letters. John sees Jesus as the one who will assist him in getting the message out. The book had 7 seals. The opening of the last seal releases 7 trumpets. And the last trumpet leads to 7 bowls [vials]. Then you have the last few chapters that speak about the wrapping up of the kingdom and the resurrection and the final judgment. You end with a new heaven and a new earth and whoever wants ‘let him come and drink of the water of life’. That’s really it- sure you do have a lot of numbers and images and stuff- but overall this is the basic outline of the book.
In the book of Daniel he sees a lot of the same things that John sees in the book of Revelation- but Daniel is told to seal up the vision- for the time was not ready. John is told to ‘un seal’ it- the time is at hand. For many of the new friends that came in this last year- the time was ready for you guys to ‘read the book’ so to speak. Just remember the key- only Jesus has the ability to show you what’s in the book- to make it clear. Read and pray and ask God to help you understand- he alone can do it.
 A WAKE UP CALL TO THE PROFESSOR-
There are a lot of things I want to hit on today- let me start with an article I read in the paper yesterday. It was a study that compared students who studied physics using 2 different methods. The traditional lecture room environment- taught by veteran teachers. Versus an interactive classroom environment taught by inexperienced students [no teacher] who simply shared the things they were learning with each other.
To the shock of the traditional advocates- the kids who were taught without a teacher scored twice as high on the tests as those who sat in the classroom. The study was headed up by a top rated scientist who works for the president.
This reminded me of all the teaching I did over the years on the nature of the church [the study on the blog is called ‘what in the world is the church’]. After years of studying and doing many of the ‘interactive’ principles found in the study- I do see how important it is for believers to interact with each other- not just during ‘fellowship’ times- but as a main part of worship.
It is no accident that the churches in the New Testament were structured along these lines. In the bible you simply did not have churches structured around a single figure who ‘lectured’ week after week to the people. Now- this debate has been raging for a while amongst those who debate stuff like this. And a few years back some scholars from the more traditional view really went after the more ‘organic’ type church brothers.
But overall I believe the interactive ‘church meeting’ is really the most biblical way to go. I still think there is room for the more traditional style of ‘lecture hall’ but that is a small part of being in Christian community- yet for many that seems to actually be what they refer to as ‘the local church’ very limited perspective indeed [you can also read my short book on the left of the blog site- Further Talks on Church and Ministry].
Okay-maybe I’ll hit a few more thoughts in keeping with this idea. After the fellowship lunch the other day I invited Henry [my homeless friend] back to the house for the day. These guys are on the streets most of the day and they appreciate being able to rest and catch some news on the tube.
Once again as Henry left he told me ‘John- this was one of the best days I have had in a long time’. He told me this the last time I had him over. Why? What I do withHenry is I try not to act the ‘preacher/pastor’ role. That is I share and interact with Henry as an equal. Henry just so happens to be real knowledgeable when it comes to the bible and theology.
Part of the discussion was Henry sharing how the letter to the Romans [written by the apostle Paul] was the only letter written to a church that Paul didnot found himself. Now- I knew this before- and most bible students know this- but yet it started a conversation that both of uscould engage in. Henry had read somewhere that the church at Rome might have been started by the Diaspora [the scattered] Jews/Christians who dispersed after the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts chapter 7.
I told Henry that I actually taught on this before- but I referenced the dispersion that took place in Acts chapter 2. At the day of Pentecostthere were Jewishworshippers who came from all parts of the known world at the time- they were gathered at Jerusalem for the big holiday.
After the Spirit came on the early church- these believerswent back to their homes and some of them did indeed go back to Rome.
Either way- the point is that Paul did not start the church at Rome- and there are no records [in the bible] of who was the first founder [yes Peter also wentto Rome- but he too was not the initial ‘church planter’].
Okay- why even mention this? I think Henry has these ‘best days of my life’ days because the fellowships we have are based on the organic church style- that is I’m not always ‘preaching’ to him in the conventional sense.
I hope to get with the guys again this week- same place[Sirloin Stockade off of SPID in Corpus] I will let everyone know a day ahead- so if you guys want to make it a weekly thing you can join the group. But I have been meeting with these friends for 20 years now- just sharing the interactive way.
The above study was said to have been a real wake up call to the actual veteran lecturers- they couldn’t believe that the students on their own-without the ‘pro’ lecturing them- would do twice as well as the students who sat ‘in church’ [the lecture room] simply listening to the able speaker- speak.
The apostle Paul knew this trick 2 millennia ago- he wrote the church at Corinth ‘and when you meet together- let everyone of you share what you have learned- do it in order- but let everyone speak’ I like Paul’s method a lot.
 ANTI COLONIAL REDO
Let me try to cover a few current events. This week we had a few presidential hopefuls drop out of the race- and a few announce. Newt Gingrich did his first Sunday news interview since officially getting into the race.
David Gregory- Tim Russert’s replacement on NBC- did an okay interview- but he did raise the question of racism [so soon!]. Yes- he questioned Newt’s speech where he mentioned that Obama is the ‘food stamp president’. That is Newt criticized the economic policies of this administration and said how we have over 40 million people on food stamps. That the lack of the president’s ability to create jobs is seen in the food stamp [and welfare] rates rising.
Gregory questioned whether or not this played into the race game. Now- MSNBC and one of the most biased news people in the media today [Chris Matthews] had on 2 liberal minded men. He got right into the race card- he played it hard and long. To my surprise- both of the liberals he interviewed disagreed with him. They distanced themselves from the race card.
One of the men- Richard Wolfe- is an Obama insider. He has lots of access to the inner workings of the White House. He has written books on the president and he is close to the real sources. I had to ask myself why both of these liberal minded men agreed with me- that to use the race card on something like this is shameful.
I realized that as ‘true insiders’ they know that this type of accusation surely does not play well in Rio Linda. That is the majority of voters- especially white independents- they might not say it- but this stuff does not gain votes.
As smart politicos- these Obama supporters knew this- and for the welfare of the president, whom they support- they did the right thing. Matthews- well he’s a lost cause.
One of the things that gets raised with the Newt debate is the accusation that our president is ‘anti- colonial’ or that he is an ‘anti colonial Kenyan’. In the past I have defended the president against this accusation- yet at the same time others who have defended the president against this accusation have seemed to not know what they are talking about [Matthews again].
These last few years Newt Gingrich has positioned himself for a possible run for the White House. One of the things he has done is he has converted to Catholicism. Now- I do not question his conversion- as a matter of fact if you realize that Newt is an intellectual- than the conversion to a Christian denomination that has the greatest intellectual heritage of them all- well that just makes sense.
As a new convert Newt is obviously going to read the books of other Catholic intellectuals. And a top seller during this time was a book by DineshDesouza. A Catholic intellectual himself. The book critiqued the development of the political/social thought of the president. It covered the presidentsown journey as he grew up and later learned more about his father’s struggle- and the blackmans struggle in general. The president wroteabout this in his book Dreams of my Father.
Part of the critique that Dinesh mentioned is that the presidents father- like many Kenyans and other foreign ethnic groups- had what youwould describe as an ‘anti colonial’ mindset. What’s that? Our world has gone thru many stages of growth and development. Some stages were good- other times bad [the Hitler stage!] After the great breakthroughs in science and technology that occurred during the 18th-19th centuries- you had European [western] world powers colonizing other parts of the world. Africa [Kenya] as well as other Arab nations became colonies of the west.
The famousstruggle ofGandhi was all about India breaking away from Britain’srule over them. They indeed were ‘anti colonial’. Now- in this conversation many can’tbelieve [Matthews] that anyone would ever even venture to say that the president might be ‘anti colonial’ as in if this is a bad thing. Geez- America is ANTI COLONIAL for heaven’s sake. We revolted against the English king and became a nation of our own.
So the anti colonial mindset-in itself- is not so terrible. Yet some of the president’s accusers do use the accusation as saying the president buys into the whole spirit of anti colonialism- which in many parts of the world does come with an antiAmerican attitude- why? Well they resent our political influence in their nations.
The present protests going on in the Arab world also play strongly into this feeling. Many in the western media have simplified the reasons for the Arab protests. Some [Beck] simply see a radical world uprising that wants to take over the world. Others are a little more thoughtful- they see the actual religious divisions in these countries [between Sunni and Shii] and they tell the story of one sect of Islam fighting the other sect. But this too is ‘too’ simple.
I read an article a while back- written by a Muslim woman who lives in Bahrain. She said that when the west views the protests in her country assimply a Shiite majority population protesting a Sunni minority dynasty- that this narrative misses the point. She explained how in the Arab world there is a strong undercurrent running thru the unrest- and that this undercurrent is anti colonial in nature.
She explained how many of the younger generation Muslim/Arabs are seeing their leaders as sell outs- that their rulers have a sort of unwritten colonial pact with the west-and that this unspoken agreement says ‘if you work with us in fighting the radicals among you- we in turn will support you- even if you treat your people badly’. Thus you had the uprising in Egypt that ousted the long term president. Mubarak was indeed America’sstrongest ally in the Arab world- he had maintained a cold peace with Israel for 30 years- and the west loved it.
So in essence the protests are not really about the religious divide withinIslam [The divide itself dates back to the 7thcentury under the founder Mohammad. After Mohammed’s death he was replaced by another top organizational leader- who was not related by blood to Mohammed. This passing ofof the leadership- by abilityas opposed to blood- this is calledSunna- the example of the prophet spoken about in the Hadith.
Those who describe themselves as Sunni adhere to this example. The other side- Shii [partisan] broke away from this idea and instead believed that the leadership should pass thru those who have blood relations to the former leader. This division has existed till this day and that’s why in some nations you have the Sunni in charge- and in others the Shii.
In Bahrain- when they repressed the protestors- they appealed to another Sunni led nation- Saudi Arabia- and they sent their soldiers into Bahrain to put down the uprising. On the other side of the coin you have Iran [Shii leadership] backing Assad in Syria because he too adheres to their division.
So some in the western media have played this up as the main cause of the protests- when in reality it plays a smaller role than you would think.
Okay- all that to say this. If the defendersof the president want to defend him against ‘anti colonial’ accusations- then have some background into what’s going on. If you want to criticize Newt for the accusation- realize that it’s not totally unfounded- and it’s not wrong to be anti colonial. All our founding fathers were.
 THE BIBLE IS NOT 6 THOUSAND YEARS OLD!
I should start an entire blog section called ‘THE CRITIQUE OF MSNBC’, but then maybe that would be giving them a little too much free advertising. Okay- let’s start off with the other night- Chris Matthews was in L.A. and they were covering politics. He goes into this rant on Sarah Palin- saying she has made no efforts to get a simple education. That if she was a serious candidate for higher office then she should at least have spent the last few years reading papers- or getting some basic elementary school type education; history, geography, etc.
He was dead serious. He then interviews a woman liberal- who even though she seems to be on the same side of the aisle as Matthews- even the look on her face was ‘I can’tbelieve this guy gets away with stuff like this on national T.V.’.
First- I am no fan of Palin. I don’t think she should run for president- nor would I vote for her. But for a male TV personality to regularly accuse the woman of being an uneducated ignoramus- to the point where he actually portrays her in such a demeaning way- it’s unbelievable.
Sarah Palin became the governor of Alaska and held an executive position that was noble. She did indeed drop out- which did make her look bad- but to portray her in a light that says she does not possess an elementary knowledge of anything- it’s totally demeaning- and I think liberal women should at least tell the guy that his demeaning, never ending portrayals of her should end.
Okay- in the rant of Matthews- he mentioned her Christianbelief [evangelical, who attended an Assembly of God church for a while] how she [along with all others of this stripe] are actually idiots- because they believe the bible- they reject ‘science’ [evolution] and they believe- quote- the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’. He said this multiple times.
Now- as much as I defend Catholics on my site- I have had to correct the Catholic misinterpretations of MSNBC hosts on a number of occasions. Do Evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants- Orthodox Christians believe ‘the bible is 6 thousand years old’? No. So what in the heck is he talking about? He is trying to say that some fundamentalist Christians think the EARTH and the history of man is 6 thousand years old. Big difference.
Most Christians agree that the first 5 books of the bible [Pentateuch, Torah] were written by Moses [big debate in theological circles- but most believe Mosaic authorship]. Now- Moses lived around 12- 1400 years before Christ. Some real liberalscholars date the authorship of Genesis around 1-3 hundred years before Christ. This view holds to the idea that the Jewish people ‘made up’ the history of the Old Testament as a sort of cultural way to deal with their captivity [ under Babylon, Rome, etc.] and that the Old Testament was written at that time.
Most serious scholars reject this idea. So anyway if Moses isgenerally believed to have written the first 5 books- that would mean that most Christians [including Palin’s brand] believe the bible is around 32-34 hundred years old- not 6 thousand.
I want to be careful here- I grew up in N.J. and over the years have come to appreciate the area of my youth more and more. Why? After studying world [and U.S.] history for many years- you see the North East as being at the heart of the American heritage.
One of the first history books I bought after moving to Corpus Christi [a cheap book sale in one of our malls] was on the Puritans- and after reading all the history taking place in my old stomping grounds- I became a lifelong student of the area.
Okay- one of the problems I see with my old area- is there can be an elitist mindset among some intellectuals [even fake intellectuals]. The mindset often expresses itself in the way liberals speak about other ‘less informed’ folk. I had a conversation one time with a person who was mocking Palin- the person said ‘she is such an idiot- she said you could see Russia from her house’. Now- as a big political watcher myself- I knew this actual quote was wrong.
Palin actually said ‘did you know you can see certainparts of Russia from Alaska’. The person I was talking to absolutely denied this- she said that she personally heard her say it. I informed the person that this actually has become amodern urban myth- that the Tina Fey skit on SNL was where the fake quotecame from- that the real quote was the Russia being seen from Alaska quote- not ‘my house’. So- as most liberals [and yes- conservatives too] we are usually not willing to admit that we are wrong- especially during a tirade of exposing the other side as ignoramuses.
So we left it at that. In all of our learning in life- it’s important to try and view the opposing side as favorably as possible. I not only do not believe the ‘bible is 6 thousand years old’ but I also do not believe the earth is 6 thousand years old. I believe Dinosaurs are real [were!]. I believe that there are certain aspects of Evolution that are indeed true- for instance the ‘survival of the fittest’ is indeed a true scientific fact.
The reality is that species do change and adapt over time- yet the ‘other reality’ is we have never- not once- been able to verify this happening between species of living things. That is the theory of Darwin says this ishow all the species arrived on the planet- from one common living cell. Science does not show this to have happened- either in the natural environment- or in the laboratory.
So science shows us that Natural Selection does indeed happen- but it does not happen [as far as science goes] between species. As a matter of fact- if a person just went with the current understanding of time and matter commonly held by most scientists- you would not at all have the picture that Darwin painted. Modernscience says the earthis a little over 4 billion years old. For the first 3.5 billion years we have no record [Fossil] of complex structures being on the earth.
Our geologic history says complex life structures appeared during the Cambrian era [500 million years ago- referred to as the Cambrian Explosion] and that even according to the Evolutionary scientists- 500 million years is not enough time for Evolution to have happened.
You basically would have needed the Evolutionary process to have started during the first few hundred millionyears of earth’s history- not the last.
But the average ‘mocker of evangelicals’ has no idea about any of this- he just says ‘they think the bible is 6 thousand years old’. So it would do us all some good if we came to the table with a little more humility. Christianity has a long and deep heritage of wisdom.
Much of this heritagecomes to us from the Catholic Church [of which Matthews is a member]. There are many believerswho have made great strides in our understanding of creation and existence. Even many fundamentalists accept the idea that the earth is billions- not thousands of years old. So let’s try and have an honest conversation in this country- if I disagree with your politics- then let me make my case and you make yours. But if I degrade you- either by doubting yourbirth certificate- or by constantly portraying you as an idiot- who lacks a grade school education- well that gets us nowhere.
 THE PRESIDENT’S SPEECH
The president gave his speech yesterday on the Middle East- many observers were waiting to hear what he was going to say. Some conservatives are upset- they felt he ‘thru Israel’ under the bus. Basically the administrations 2 year effort to establish a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians- under George Mitchell- ended abruptly the other day when Mitchell announced he was done dealing with it.
So you have some advisers who want to take a pro Israel stance- others are more pro Palestinian. Obama went a little more pro Palestinian and he publicly stated that the talks need to start from the pre 1967 borders. This was a bit much for the pro Israel lobby- and even Netanyahu publicly called for the president to reaffirm the 2004 accord agreed to under former president Bush.
So things are a little hot right now. He also dealt with the protests in the Middle East/North Africa. He said to Assad [Syria’s leader] that you either ‘lead- or get out of the way’. To be frank this language confuses me- lead? The man has slaughtered many innocents- we have treated the Libyan leader like a war criminal for this very thing- actively trying to kill him- and in the process have killed his son and 3 grandkids- all justified under the so calledNATO agreement.
Now- for us to be targeting him for death- though we deny it- yet as NATO keeps bombing spots where we think he is- after each assassination attempt- NATO says ‘we targeted that spot because it was being used to organize aggression against civilians’. They are basically justifying the assassinationattempts by saying ‘wherever he is- that spot is a danger to civilians- so in our agreement to ‘protect civilians’ we can bomb that spot’. Okay- fine- Nato/U.S. wants to kill the guy- but please stop telling us that we are not targeting those spots because we think he’s there- don’t lie about the thing.
So Assad actually gets another chance to lead- or ‘get out of the way’ while the other guy gets chased by bombs. Just seems too inconsistent. Saudi Arabia? No mention about them at all.
I do realize it’s hard to ‘be consistent’ when the whole region is in turmoil- but heck- cant we at least try?
As I watchedthe media response to the speech- it was interesting to see both sides of the political aisle give their views. FahreedZacharia- a very knowledgeable CNN personality- he seemed to put every one of the president’s points in the best possible light. It recently slipped out that he actually advises the president on certain world issues. No wonder. And Beck and the conservatives said Obama abandoned Israel and that if Israel falls that’s the end of the western world as we know it because Israel is the cornerstone of the U.S.
I think an honest evaluation can find both good and bad out of the speech. I find it difficult to believe a reporter can really be non biased- especially if his advice is what the president used to make the speech. And I feel that to take the position that any nation is the key part- that to do anything that might seem negative towards them- that to describe it as the possible collapse of the West- well that too is a little much.
I do feel that the NATO thing needs a lot more scrutiny- if we are now going to allow NATO- and our guys- toengage in a stealthassassinationattempt of any world leader. That is for our troops [pilots] being actively involved in the obvious targeting of a leader- evil yes- but if we are saying ‘no- we are not trying killhim’ andit’s obvious we are- then who’s next? The whole NATO operation needs to be more clear- if we are not targeting him- then stop trying to kill the guy. If we are targeting him- then quit saying we are not. Our guys deserve better than that.
 HAROLD CAMPING
As you well know- today will be our last day together. Yes- at 6:oo tonight the world is supposed to end. I first stumbled across the article a few weeks ago. The famous preacher from the east- Harold Camping- has once again predicted the return of Christ [or the Rapture].
Camping has gone down this road before- and I have a friend who actually follows Camping and I have tried to be nice about it- but of course most Christiansbelieve Camping is part of a long line of well meaning men- who can’t resist the temptation to date set.
Now- I of course do not fall for stuff like this- I am not that gullible for heaven’s sake, some kind of conspiracy nut. Plus- if the world ends today- then how will we ever catch Bin Laden [of course you heard- he’s still alive?] hiding in Pakistan- with the fake birth certificate duplicator machine- you know- the one he used to fake Obama’s long form!
So yes- we as believers do have a history of doing silly things at times- and for some reason these things take on a life of their own. Many years ago I had a friend [Emit- for those of you who have read my posts these past few weeks- you now know who he is] he was/is sort of a spiritual son- you know- one of the sons of the guys hooked on drugs who eventually became a member of our little church movement.
So one day Emit tells me about the movie Jesus of Nazareth. It came out years ago and they did a good job at depicting the life of Christ. He says ‘did you see the actor who played Jesus? Wow- he was mysterious/spooky’ he watched it with his family and they felt touched by the actor who played Christ.
So I of course opined ‘You know brother- after the movie was made- when you look at the credits at the end- no name shows up for the actor. Then when the other actors and the director questioned each other- no one knows who the actor is!’
Now- of course I was kidding- and I made sure I told Emit ‘brother- just kidding’. But you know how these urban myths go- once you start them- there hard to stop!
So a few years later [maybe 5?] I was talking to his mother in law [Yolanda- another church member who was a woman preacher who did preach and had influence with other Christians- she was Emit’s mother in law]. And somehow she says ‘hey brother John- did you know that no one knows who the actor was in that Jesus movie’. I asked her ‘Yolanda- who told you that?’ she says ‘Emit’.
Now- after all those years the story got out- I mean I wish the truth could spread like this. For all I know there might be an entire group of people in Texas- you know- the ‘anonymous Jesus movie actor believers’ who all believe this story. Heck I always wanted to head up a movement.
But things like this do have a tendency to get around. So anyway that’s how the ‘end of the world is today’ thing has caught on. Now- will the world end today? Doubt it. Will ‘the world’ make fun of us? Sure. Will Christians continue to do things like this? Probably. How can we avoid doing things like this?
The safe way to go- in my view- is to stay connected to the historic church as much as possible. The Christian church has a good- long tradition ofChristian truth. For the most part- the stability you find in the Christian classics- the church fathers- Patristics- this tradition is a good one.
Harold Camping is a good man- but he is a retired civil engineer- I’m sure he means well- but try and get your info from men who have been educated- yes thru the more traditional forms of education. Yes- I know ‘who are you to talk- you’re a retired fire fighter!’ But I try to offset that with many years of study- not just bible study- but studying the things I just mentioned. Taking the attitude that I can learn from those who have been at this longer than me. Camping believes ‘all the churches’ are now in deception- yes- he has another weird teaching that says the ‘church age’ has ended and there are no longer any true churches in the world today.
I hope most of you will not fall for stuff like this- we have bigger fish to fry- heck- I need to go out today and start the ‘anonymous Jesus actor followers’ are you in?
 THE RAPTURE?
I spoke with a friend yesterday about the Harold Camping prediction that obviously failed. They know someone who is really into Camping and that person was being set up for the disappointment. On CNN they had a Baptist preacher who warned against this type of date setting- yet he spoke confidently about ‘the Rapture is the next event on Gods calendar- followed by the 7 years of great tribulation’.
I’m sure this fine pastor felt like he was providing a balanced voice compared to Camping’s date setting- yet I felt his interpretation was almost as ‘bad’ as what Camping was doing. Why?
My first introduction to ‘the Rapture’ came as a new believer who started attending a fine Baptist church- they were an ‘Independent, Fundamentalist, Pre-millennial’ Baptist church – and yes- they managed to fit all this on the sign!
The standard teaching says that in the New Testament there are 2 separate events that make up the 2nd coming. The first event is called The Rapture- that Jesus secretly comes all the way back to the earth and stops short in the sky [his feet don’t touch the ground] he ‘catchesaway’ alltruebelievers [normally the Catholics, Orthodox and other historic churches get ‘left behind’] and then begins a 7 year tribulation period.
After the tribulation you have the other part of the 2nd coming- called the Revelation of Jesus- some Christians say this happens after 3.5 years of tribulation- others after the 7 year period.
Some say Jesus comes back after a 1000 year literal reign on earth [post millennial]others say before [pre- millennial].
And then you have various ways they interpret the end time judgment- some say you have what’s called ‘the Bema seat’ a separate judgment for believers- and then the ‘Great White Throne judgment’ the general judgment of the wicked.
O.K. does the bible specifically teach that the Rapture event is a separate event from the 2ndcoming? No- in my view the bible does not teach this. Now- I’m sure that most of my Protestant readers are surprised that I hold to this view, because in American Evangelicalism this view is almost like the Trinity- in some circles itdivides the truebelievers from the heretics.
Classic Christianity does not hold this view- this idea became popularized the 1800’s under a man by the name of John Nelson Darby and the idea spread to America in the 1900’s- primarily thru the revivalist strain of Christianity- and the ‘bible school/conference’ movement.
The historic churches just stuck with the classic idea that there will be one second coming-and there will be a resurrection and final judgment. I pretty much fall into this category myself.
You would be surprised how much thought has gone into this idea- I mean you have entire schools of thought- who call the other side heretics- just because they believe a 3.5 year tribulation as opposed to a 7 year one.
The word rapture comes from the Greek phrase used in Paul’s 1stletter to the Thessalonians- chapter 4. That’s the rapture chapter. The apostle says thatJesus will return and catchup [catch away] the believers into the air- they will forever be with God. This event is biblical- I believe it will somedaytake place. I simply believe this event to be the 2nd coming- not another event that you would define as the rapture.
I believe if you simply read the 2nd coming passages in the New Testament- that you would see this to be the most acceptable view. Jesus actually says ‘after these things [the great tribulation] then the sign of the coming of the Son of Man appears in heaven’ and he goes on to say ‘one will be taken- the other left’. It seems pretty clear to me that the event where ‘one is taken- anotherleft’ takes place ‘after these things’ Jesus actually gives us the time table.
To be fair- the other side has many-many ways to ‘get around’ these verses- I just feel that after all is said and done- that the best way to view The Rapture is to see this event as the actual 2ndcoming.
I have written a lot about this over the years [under the End Times section] and my purpose today is not to ‘prove’ whose view is right- I have found those tasks to be next to impossible. My point is if a believer [or group of them] chooses to break away from the historic church’s position on anything, then you need to think thru it very carefully. Most classic Christianchurches have had very wise and knowledgeable men who thought long and hard before they articulated doctrine.
This is not to say that the majority view is always right- but it’s simply asafe guide to stick with the majority Christian view most of the time. I’m very aware of the minority report when it comes to the Rapture doctrine- I just feel like the portions of scripture that are used to ‘prove’ the doctrine are not strong enough to overthrow the classic belief.
The plain teaching of the New Testament is that there most definitely will be a Second Coming- and this event does not take place in 2 stages- the Rapture is the 2nd coming.
 THE FIG TREE
Let’s do a little more on Eschatology [end times stuff] today. Over the last few weeks these things have been in the news because of the Harold Camping prediction and you have heard various news folk- as well as believers giving their slant to all the popular verses that deal with the subject.
Some media people were quoting ‘no one knows when the last day will happen- not even the Son, only God’. Then you have had a few other popular verses seep into the flow. The main portions of the bible that deal with the end times are Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. John’s gospel does not have an ‘end times’ discourse- possibly because he covers the subject in length in the book of Revelation.
The main gospel on the subject is Matthew- Mark’s gospel seems to be a shorter compilation possibly taken from Matthew. By ‘taken’ I mean Mark was a scribe/recorder- he was the personality we see in the book of Acts- John Mark. If you remember- he had a falling out with the Apostle Paul and Mark ‘went home’ while Paul took Silas and they embarked on the great missionary journeys of the Apostle.
You don’t hear that much about Mark after the ‘falling out’ but we know that Mark would later pen the 2nd gospel and he was also a recorder [secretary] for the Apostle Peter [might be important to remember this- if I get to it?]
So anyway mark seems to have borrowed from Matthew [some scholars think the familiarity between the gospels should be attributed to another unknown common source- referred to as Q- I prefer to simply see it as the writers being familiar with what the other writers were writing- and in the 1st century you did not have Plagiarism as we do today- where it would be illegal to copy something verbatim from another writer- that’s why Mark- who also probably penned 2nd Peter- not as a Plagiarist who used Pseudepigraphy- writings by authors who pretended to be someone else- but as a scribe who was familiar with the other source documents of the time. 2nd Peter has come under scrutiny because chapter 2 seems to have borrowed heavily from the letter of Jude. At some spots it looks like a direct copy. But as Peter’s scribe- it would not have been out of the ordinary to have included- verbatim- a passage from Jude and to have attributed the entire letter to Peter. Or Peter might have simply been familiar with Jude’s letter and it would not have been wrong according to 1st century writing standards to have done this. But skeptics in our day try to use this to say the bible is a forgery- so that’s why it’s important to be familiar with the debate and to have a good response.]
Okay-lets at least try and start a little end times stuff. Matthews 24 begins with Jesus and the disciples walking away from the Temple and Jesus says ‘see all these buildings- truly I tell you that there will not be left one stone on top of another’.
The disciples then ask Jesus ‘when will this happen- and what will be the sign of the end of the age/world, and the sign of your coming’. Now- this sets the stage for the entire scope of the answer. Jesus told them one thing ‘the temples coming down some day’ and they ask a few things.
Some scholars believe that the entire answer Jesus gives- about the end of the world and the coming tribulation- some teach that all these things did happen by A.D. 70- that’s when the Romangeneral Titus [future emperor] attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. Jesus prediction about ‘one stone not beingleft on another’ wasfulfilled to the tee because the temple stones were overlaid with Gold and thelooters burned the stones to melt the gold and in the process they literally laid every stone out.
In the Matthew discourse Jesus also warnedthedisciples that ‘when you seethese things beginning to happen- let those in the city flee to the mountains’. As Titus made his way towards Jerusalem some earlycommunities took his words literally and did use themountains as a place for protection. The community at Qumran hid their writings in ‘the mountains’ that overlooked the Dead Sea- some 2 thousand years later these writings [scrolls] would be discovered- those are the Dead Sea Scrolls of today- one of the greatest archeological finds of history.
And there were Jewish believers at Jerusalem who did indeedflee to the mountains and they escaped the slaughter. So there certainly were things that Jesus spoke about in his ‘end times’ teaching that were fulfilled in the 1st century.
But what about the other famous portions? As various media persons were quoting a few famous parts of this discourse [this is the 4thfamous discourse known as the Olivet discourse in Matthew- 5 famous long sections of Jesus’ teaching] it would help us to know the entirecontext of the discourse [which includes chapter 25 by the way].
One of the famous verses is ‘when you see the fig tree putting forth leaves- you know that summer is near- so when you seethese signs you know the end is near’. In American evangelicalism this verse has been made popular by men like Hal Lindsay who teach that the fig tree is ALWAYS a symbol for the nation of Israel and therefore Jesus was saying that when Israel becomes a nation again [which happened in 1948] that within ‘a generation’ the end will happen.
This view uses a few other verses to come to this conclusion. Jesus famous ‘this generation will not pass away until all thesethings happen’ and a few otherscriptures. Simply reading the chapter in context does not seem to be saying this at all. The parallel passage in Luke says ‘and all the trees’. It seems like Jesus is simply saying ‘just like when you see a tree blossom- so when you see these signs know that the time is near’.
Therereally is nothing in the actual text to indicate that this is speaking about 1948. But because of these verses having been used like this many preachershave tried to date the coming of Christ within ‘the generation’ from1948. Lindsey put out a book saying that 1988 was a ‘special time’ why 88? 1988 was 40 years [biblicalgeneration] from 1948. Then some changed the biblical generation to 70 years- which makes this decade real important.
The problem with all these dates is there based on a faulty premise- that Jesus was saying that within a generation of the ‘fig tree blooming’ the 2nd coming will take place- he never said that. As far as I can tell 1948 plays no significant role. Of course Israel becoming a nation again at that time was a great thing- but as a date to begin setting off some type of spiritual clock- that’s not in the bible.
Okay- maybe I’ll do a few more of these over the next few days. Try and read thesechaptersthenext few days and get a feel for the overall meaning [the context] when we becomefamiliar with the overall meaning of the passage- it keeps us from getting lost in the Fig Tree ones.
 THIS GENERATION WILLNOT PASS AWAY UNTIL ALL THESE THINGS HAPPEN
Let’s cover a little more on the End Times. Here in my study I have a couple of books that would fit in the category of Preterism. Preterism is the view that some Christians hold that says all the events spoken about by Jesus in these end times chapters were fulfilled in the 1st century.
The books are by R.C. Sproul [not a full Preterist] and GaryDemar [a full Preterist]. Demar’s book is called ‘Last Days Madness’ and if you want a full study of this view- that would be the book to get.
Now- am I a Preterist? No. Like I said before- I try real hard to stay in the classical mainstream of Christian thought- and though Preterists make a good case- in the end I think they go too far.
But let’s talk a little about why certainbelievers have found it necessaryto even make a defense like this. In the chapters of the bible that talk about the last days- there are frequent statements made that seem to indicate that the things being discussed would take place ‘quickly’ ‘shortly’ or at least in the lifetime of those hearing the message at the time. Jesus says ‘truly I say to you- this generation will not pass away until ALL these things are fulfilled’. Another time Jesus says ‘some of you standing here will not die until you see the kingdom come’.
So its passages like these that have caused some to make the effort to fit all the end times stuff within the 1st century. You say ‘but how can anyone think that the 2nd coming and the finaljudgment and all theend times events- how could they think it happened in the 1st century?’ Well before you scoff too much- believe me- these guys make a really thorough case. For instance they will show you verses in the Old Testament that use the same End Times language that Jesus uses about ‘my coming’ and the ‘judge will come to judge the world’ and they will show you that these prophecies were actually fulfilled by certain judgments that took place against the nation of Israel.
And there are Parables of Jesus that speak about his ‘coming’ and in some cases it is speaking about his resurrection and ascension and being seated at Gods right hand- that is ‘the coming’ was more of a view ofJesus ‘coming’ to sit on the right hand of God after he fulfilled his earthly mission. So as you can see, those who make this argument are not totally out in left field.
Okay- how do we answer the critics on the sayings about ‘this generation will not pass until all these things happen’. Like I said in the last post- some say Jesus was talking about a future generation- at least 2 thousand years down the road- who would be alive when the 2nd coming would happen. The problem with this view is in the New Testament you have the Greek language as the original language that you study when looking at these verses [the bible was originally written in Greek]and when you look at this terminology being used in other places- it is always speaking about the generation living at the time of the statement.
So that would make it hard to make the case that Jesus was speaking about some future generation down the road. Others say that ‘this generation’ can refer to a certain ethnic group [the Jewish nation]. While this can apply- yet again this is not the normal way the phrase is used.
So what’s the answer? I do believe that some of the ideas from the Preterists can help here. In the Old Testament there are what you call Dual Prophecies- prophecies that are fulfilled ‘twice’. If you study the events that took place during ‘the generation’ living at the time of these statements- they did indeed see these things happen. I mean you even have reports by 1st century historians [Eusebius- lived in the 3rd or 4th century- was a 1st century historian] that said at the time of the destruction of the temple [A.D. 70] there were accounts of people seeing chariots in the sky and all sorts of signs that Jesus mentioned in the Last Days passages.
Maybe tomorrow I will get a little more into some of the signs- but the fact is you can find just about every element of Jesus Last Times teaching being fulfilled in some way within the actual generation of those who heard him speak at the time.
However Christians decide to come down on these issues- it’s important to see that the prevailing AmericanEvangelical view- that ‘this generation’ is speaking about the generation of people living at the time of the ‘blooming of the fig tree’ which is defined by some as the birth of the nation of Israel in 1948- that this teaching is not to be found in the bible.
While we do not know the time of Jesus return-and the ‘end of the world/age’ [another important distinction] we do know that the signs that Jesus gave us do count for something- it’s not wrong to look at the general signs of increased wars and natural disasters and the like- and to see that his coming is drawing near. Most commentators who have used these verses recently- even in the secular media- have actually been using them in context.
So we should avoid the temptation to date set- try not to add things into the passages that are not there [the fig tree meaning Israel in 1948] and avoid mocking the actual teaching in the bible that Jesus will indeed return some day- the apostle Peter said that in the End Times some would mock and say ‘where is the promise of his coming- we have been hearing it for our whole lives’. So we don’t want to fall into the category of mockers- yet we don’t want to date set either- no man knows the day- not even the Son.
 THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
Okay, I think today will be the last day for doing End Time stuff [for now]. Over these last few days I have tied to just hit a few key verses- things that are popular in the media because of the failed Camping prediction.
As I looked over Matthew 24 again this morning- there might have been 2 more areas I wanted to cover- but let’s stick with the verseabove [the other area was Jesus teaching about his own 2nd coming- he actually says don’t ‘fall’ for those who say ‘see- here is Jesus- in the SECRET chambers’. He actually warns against having a belief in a secret return- which is actually what the Rapture is. He then says ‘for as the lightning shines from one end of the sky to the other- so shall the 2nd coming be’. Some actually think this is saying its secretive- that just like you miss seeing the lighting- because it’s so fast- so you might not see the return. In context all these verses are saying the coming of Jesus will be open and in full view. When you read the other descriptions Jesus gives- ‘Like a thief in the Night’ if you continue to read in context- these verses are saying many will be surprised- like when a robber comes- they are not saying no one will see!]
Okay- in Matt. 24 Jesus says ‘when you see the abomination of desolation stand in the holy place- flee to the mountains- leave the city- troubles on the way’. What does this mean? Jesus is quoting Daniel the prophet. In Daniel chapters 9-12 you read lots of detailed stuff- it’s easy to get lost in the many intricate interpretations some prophecy teachers get into here.
I just want to hit on the Abomination one. The term simply means ‘the wicked thing/person that will bring destruction’. Daniel was one of the Jews taken into captivity during the Babylonian captivity of Gods people. Daniel lived around 600 B.C. and you read in his book that when he was in exile he picked up the writings of the prophet Jeremiah and he figured out the years that God had foretold for the judgment on Israel [chapter 9].
As you look at all the verses about how many years so many things will take place in- one of the famous time verses is the 70 weeks prophecy. This prophecy is usually seen to be speaking about 70 weeks of years [490 years]. As you read and follow the years of the prophecy- it brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
The prophecy says there will be 490 years determined for the Jewish people- and from the decree to rebuild the temple to the appearing of Jesus there will be 69 weeks [of years]. Now- many scholars have traced the years from the decree that we find in the Old Testament to the time of Jesus and it amazingly brings you right up unto the time of Christ.
But the prophecy leaves the last ‘week of years’ out [some say]. If you measure the time right unto the Crucifixion of Jesus- then you have the last 7 years open. This is where many prophecy folk put the future 7 year tribulation. If you are familiar at all with these things- the popular version says in the last days the anti-christ will arise and make a covenant with Israel for 7 years- in the middle of the 7 years [3.5] he will ‘cause the sacrifice to cease’ and bring an end to temple worship and the sacrificial system. Wording like this is used in Daniel.
Now- in some of these verses in Daniel you are reading about Jesus- the prince- and in others your reading about the ‘bad’ prince- the ‘abomination that makes desolate’. Some have said if you trace the years  to the baptism of Jesus [instead of the Crucifixion] then you can view the ‘middle of the last week’ [3.5 years] as referring to the end of Jesus earthly ministry. If this is so- then ‘the prince who made the sacrifice to cease in the middle of the last week’ might be referring to the Cross of Christ.
The New Testament teaches [Hebrews] that the death of Christ was the final sacrifice for man- and his death caused the old sacrificial system to stop ‘the prince who causes the sacrifice to cease’ get it?
Either way- as you can see- there are various ways to view these time verses. Now- in 168 B.C. you had the wicked ruler- Antiochus Epiphanies- attack the Jewish temple and he set up a pagan altar and sacrificed a pig on the altar- this was the firstfulfillment of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This began a process of the Hellenization of the Jewish people by Antiochus [Hellenization means imposing Greek culture and ways upon a foreign culture].
This event was avenged by a Jewish priest and his 5 sons [the most famous being Judas Maccabee]. The Catholic Apocryphal book of Maccabees records this event. This is known as the Maccabean Revolt and the Jewish people celebrate this event every Hanukah [I think it’s Hanukah- to be honest it’s been a long time since I read this- might want to double check].
So Jesus picks up on the Danielprophecy- that was partially fulfilled in the 2ndcentury B.C. and he says there will be another ‘abomination that makes desolate’ and when you see him [or it?] ‘fleeJerusalem and run to the hills’. Now I mentioned the other day that manyJewishbelievers did run for the hills in A.D. 70- they took Jesus words as a warning and escaped the slaughter.
If Jesus were talking about the ‘end of the world’ why flee to the hills? I mean if I said ‘the world is ending- run from North Bergen to Fairview [my old hometown area]’ that wouldn’t make much sense. So it is possible that the ‘abomination that makes desolate’ was fulfilled in some way during the 1st century. How?
There are various views on this- let me just give you one. Now- to my Jewish friends I want to be careful here- but understand this is a theological issue that weighed heavily on the minds of the 1st century Jewish believers. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is considered to be the final sacrifice for all men. In the New Testament you have very strong language used for those who continued to sacrifice animals after the once and for all sacrifice of Christ.
The book of Hebrews says those who do this are ‘trampling under their feet the Blood of Christ and are disrespecting his Blood’ strong words indeed [Hebrews]. Okay- in the 1st century you did not have the internet or media like we do today- so obviously God was not holding all the Jews responsible from day 1- that is it took some time before the word of the Cross would get out and those who believed would stop sacrificing animals. Basically God gave the Jewish nation a 40 year probationary period- a GENERATION [‘this generation’- remember?]
From the time of Jesus earthly ministry to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem [A.D. 70] you had just under a biblical generation- just like the prophecies said. What happened at the time of the destruction that might have been called ‘an abomination that makes desolate’? The Jewish nation continued to sacrifice animals right up until the end of the ‘40 year probationary period’ the time God gave them to fully embrace the once and for all sacrifice of Christ. This means it is possible that the abomination of desolation is speaking of the continued animal sacrifices that were ‘tramplingunder foot the Blood of Christ-and putting him to an open shame’.
In essence this act- continuing to sacrifice animals- was just as blasphemous as Antiochus sacrificing a pig on the altar- got it?
Okay- these past few days I floated lots of other ways to view the End Times teaching besides the most popular ways we hear about in the media [both ‘Christian’ and secular]. I’m not saying my view- or these various views are the only ‘right way’ but I am saying we need to be careful as believers when we hear/learn certain views- and then confuse those views with ‘well brother- this is what the bible says!’ Often times people mean ‘this is what I think the bible says’ and we need to be careful that we are distinguishing between the two.
 A SIGN FROM AN ANGEL?
These last few days I have been reading/teaching a few passages from Matthew and one of the quotes of Jesus [chapter 24] comes from the Old Testament book of Daniel. So as I skimmed through a few of the verses I felt like the Lord was leading me to read a chapter or 2.
My last year at the fire Dept. was 2007- I retired in 12-07 with a few days just under 25 years. Though I never planned on retiring that early- I was only 45- and even though I had put in a full 25 years- the young age effects how much you get. I always planned on working till at least 55.
But the last year my back injury was bad- had it for many years [bad disk] and the last few months I finished on injury leave. Now- we have had guys who worked 25 years and spent at least half of it on injury leave- yes some guys know how to work the system. If you don’t count my final 6 months on the job- for the entire other 25 years I only took a total of 2 weeks on injury leave- so I wasn’t a ‘work the system’ kinda guy.
When I retired- the city fully expected me to try and do some kind of injury settlement- it became standard procedure for stuff like this. I took my retirement check and left- they never heard from me again.
The last year- before I knew I was leaving- I would get up real early in the morning [I actually started this practice the last few years before I retired]. I would walk outside and pray for most of the night. I did the same at the house. One thing I soon realized is when you’re up most of the night- you see lots of shooting stars and you learn the different star patterns during the year.
I would often find it ‘strange’ to see a shooting star right at certain times during prayer- maybe I would pray ‘let your word go forth’ and then see a star. Now- I know it might be a coincidence and all- yet at times it was weird.
One night- I will never forget this one- I was walking outside early [maybe 3 a.m.?] and I feltimpressed to pray a verse from the book of Daniel. I was thinking about the story of the angel Gabriel and his dealings with Daniel. At one point Daniel is praying to God and he seems to be stuck- he needs a breakthrough. So after a few weeks of seeking God the angel Gabriel appears and tells Daniel he’s there to help.
So as I was thinking about this passage I felt the Lord leading me to do a ‘Danielprayer’ which to me meant to simply say something like ‘God- send some angels to help us out- Gabriel- come on- what’s taking so long!’ And as soon as I prayed the thing I saw a giant meteor roll through the sky. Now- when I say giant I mean it. It was a huge ball of fire- I have never seen anything like it in real time.
So this obviously stuck with me- a sign from God maybe? Anyway I really never gave it much thought that it came right at a major transitional time in my life- I left the Fire Dept. and at the same time entered into a few new areas of doing ministry. In a way it was a Beginning of a new thing.
So as I’m reading Daniel the other day- I read chapter 9- probably the first time since seeing the meteor in 2007. And I read Gabriel saying ‘I’m the one you saw at the start- when you first started praying- I heard you and was sent forth- I’m now here’. I found it strange because these last few weeks during prayer I felt lead to ask for God to send- well yes angels. I mentioned Michael and Gabriel. So in a way it was like the Lord was saying- through Gabriel ‘I’m the sign you saw at the start- I finally made it’.
Now- one of the new ministry things I started was Facebook- lots of old friends and a few new ones. Because I’m such a political junky- I ‘friended’ a few of the sites that are called ‘Days of Rage’ these are the Arab/Persian nations who are protesting their leaders.
One of the friends on the site is from the tiny nation of Bahrain- if you look on a map it’s this little country sitting right off the coast- in the Persian Gulf. The reason this nation is getting a pass- as opposed to dropping bombs on them [like Libya] is because we have our 5th fleet docked there- this is our major sea base for the whole region.
But I have had a few good talks with the person who runs the site- and I feel doing stuff like this- reaching out to help—even in Arab/Muslim nations- that we as Christains should try and be involved- while at the same time sharing the gospel.
Many years ago while preaching at the jails- I met an exchange student who got arrested and was from the Persian Gulf area. He told me he was Muslim but he would appreciate it if I bought him a Persian language bible. So I ordered one and a few weeks later I gave it to him. He was really grateful- I guess he thought I would forget. This was the first [only?] foreign language bible I recall ever actually buying. But I have thought about it recently- kind of thinking ‘heck, maybe it’s because I have been praying for my friends in the Persian Gulf and somehow this was always a region we were to befriend’.
So this morning I read chapter 10 of Daniel [chapter 9 was the chapterreferenced above] and Daniel is on his face- going through great trials- and Gabriel appears again and says ‘fear not Daniel- understand the words that I speak to you. Since the first day you began seeking God I was sent. But the Prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me, but lo, Michael, one of the chief princes [angels] came to help me… and I am now come to tell you what will happen to your people in the coming days’.
I just found the entire conversation between Daniel/God and the angels to have been speaking to me. I mean I was just praying about Persia- asking for God to send Gabriel and Michael [by name!] and I had no idea that I would stumble across these obscure Daniel chapters that include all these same elements.
Let me be frank- There are entire church movements [which I am very familiar with] that live their whole lives being led bystuff like this. These are often described as Prophetic or Apostolic movements. I have read lots- and been involved some with these churches and for the most part they are great Christians- It’s just I find at times they avoid ‘classical’ education. That is many of the things I write about and stuff I feel all believersshould learn-many of thesetypechurches have no time for ‘that stuff’ and they simply wait for the next ‘Daniel’ experience.
That is they look for details in scripture- things that are not always there. So I want to go on record to say I don’t see these types of experiencesas the norm for the healthy Christian life. Yet- I have had them happen- and when they do it’s important to listen.
I thank the Lord that he has sent some help for us at this time- my friends in the Persian/Arab world as well as the ones herein the U.S. I thank God we are part of a real community of people- some have gone on to be with God- others are still here-and yes- we do have a company of angels that are also looking in on the thing [Hebrews, Revelation, etc.]
When we do all we can do and are at the end of the rope- like Danielflat on his face- it helps when God sends an angel and says ‘heck- get up from the ground- stand up- we have work to do’.