Whatever Happened to John 3:16?

Quite literally, every day we learn of another example of man’s inhumanity to man. News organizations, both traditional and Internet-based, daily report on the atrocities and unspeakable evil which permeates, affects, touches, or in some way influences the lives of nearly every person on planet Earth. We are being constantly made aware of new and terrible diseases, or the resurgence or mutations of age-old maladies which are increasingly affecting numbers of peoples all over the world. And, weather events and natural disasters continue to increase in severity and frequency.

However, those of us who consider ourselves to be a part of the True Church, the Body of Christ, point to prophetic Scripture and declare that the Bible says these things are to be so as we approach the end of days. We of course do so by sharing these things from our pulpits, or in our weekly Bible studies, or through books we write, or (more and more frequently) through blogs posted on our own websites and those of others.

News organizations detail the latest atrocities committed by ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and the rest of the Middle East; Boko Haram in Africa, Russian separatists in Ukraine, the Iranian proxies (Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon), Al Qaeda in Yemen and Libya, the PLO in Israel, the Taliban in Afghanistan, Muslim extremists in Europe, and rising anti-Semitism worldwide. We hear about Chinese belligerence in the Far East, the nuclear aspirations of Iran, North Korea, and India, and increasingly, the failure of the United States to articulate any real understanding of, or implementation of, foreign policy.

In the US domestic news, we also read and see evidence of the growing influence of Islam, the continued proliferation of secular humanism in our institutions of learning, the insidious and intolerant assaults on Christianity and traditional family values by progressives (formerly known as liberals), and the militant minority LGBT community.

Lately, as I follow these news sources and then read the blog articles and comments of those in the Christian community, I have begun to see what I consider to be a disturbing trend. Many, though certainly not all, of these comments, articles, and posts focus on the condemnation of the individuals, groups, or countries committing these egregious acts without commenting on, or attributing, the ultimate reason for these evils to the very fact that we are living in a world which is ruled by the prince of the power of the air, and the rulers of darkness of this world, which is of course, Satan and his demons.

In fact, many in the Christian community have become so intentional in their desire to “expose” the hatred and evil inherent among those who are doing Satan’s bidding in these days, that they have forgotten not only the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and Great Commission (Mark 16:15), but in fact, the words of John 3:16. Even while acknowledging that we are living in the Last Days, that the Rapture of the church is imminent, and that a time of great Tribulation is approaching mankind, which will culminate in Christ’s physical return to the earth in power and great glory, we are failing to do the work which we were first called to do; proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (NKJV)

Remember this verse? It is one of the best-known verses in the Bible. In fact, for most of us it is the very first verse we ever committed to memory. John 3:16 clearly and simply declares the Good News of the Gospel.

Let’s break this verse down a bit, “For God so loved the world” tells us that the creator of the universe loves His creation. However, the “world” here is not descriptive of the cosmos, or even the earth itself, but of all mankind. So the Scripture is saying that God loves all men, even those who scorn or reject His love. When I read “God so loved the world,” I can individualize that to say that He loves me. Yet, the same can be said by every other individual on the earth. This then means that the whole love of God is available to every single soul who has ever lived. Understanding that, the blessed truth here is this; no matter how far one distances himself from God, no matter how little one thinks of God, or no matter that one never even shows any love for God, it makes absolutely no difference to the very fact that God loves them.

Let’s continue, “that He gave His only begotten Son” is describing the fact that Jesus Christ became the sacrifice required by a Holy God to pay the sin debt of the entire world (read mankind). We must understand here that it was not Jesus’s death that turned God’s wrath and anger away from man, but rather it was God’s love for man which appointed Jesus Christ’s death. This then demonstrates that God loved men before He sent Christ to pay their sin debt. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2)

This brings us to the last part of the verse, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Now then, “whoever” means whoever. There is nothing complicated here, there is no mystery here, any and every man who believes that Jesus Christ paid his sin debt can have eternal life.

Believing in Christ means that we acknowledge that He alone could be the perfect sacrifice which a Holy God required. It is acknowledging Him as our Savior, and surrendering to Him authority in our lives as our Lord. It is the act of acknowledging His will as our own as we become His disciples.

God hates sin, and God certainly does not like the wicked state of the world in which we live. But God loves men, and Peter tells us that He is not willing that any should perish. (2 Peter 3:9)

So, the purpose of my article is this:

We who are disciples of Jesus Christ, who make up the Body of the True Church, which is the Bride of Christ, need to examine our attitudes as they relate to men and sin. When we stand in our pulpits, or sit before our computers we need to remember that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that but for the grace of God, we ourselves could still be in need of redemption. We need to humble ourselves as did the Apostle Paul when he wrote; “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15).

Jesus Christ came to save sinners, mankind; no matter what their nationality, no matter what their race, no matter what their religion, no matter what their sexual orientation, no matter what political office they may hold, no matter whether they are rich or poor, no matter what the circumstances of their life are, Jesus Christ paid their sin debt and we have the responsibility to share that Good News with them. No matter what the cost may be.

Reread the Book of Acts, up until his conversion on the road to Damascus in chapter 9, the church considered Paul (Saul of Tarsus) a terrorist. Yet, look at what Christ did with his life. Take a hard look at your life and examine what you might have become had it not been for Christ’s intervention and your salvation. Think about what Christ could do with the life of a world leader or even a would-be terrorist who found redemption in Him today.

Please understand this, I am not asking that we cease our efforts as “watchmen on the wall” or that we quit proclaiming the imminence of Christ’s return for His Church. I am not even suggesting we quit commenting on current events and their relationship to the end times.

What I am asking is that we refocus on that which is the most important task we have been given, to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Share it in every message you preach, every study you lead, and every article you write. Is it not truly what we have all been called to do? Is it not really the reason we have become watchmen?

Yes, Jesus is coming soon, and we need to share the Good News so that many more will be ready for His coming.

Spiritual Warfare

There has been a rash of stories in the news lately that are related to religion. Many of them show moral failure and spiritual depravity in the world. They also show that multitudes are being misled.

The Pink Cross Publishing Company announced plans to start placing their Queen James Bibles next to Gideon Bibles in hotels and motels. The Queen James Bible is a Bible for gays, and the publishing company changed eight verses to hide the fact that homosexuality is a sin.

Some of the problems with this is that the Scriptures were given by God (2 Tim. 3:16). He cannot lie (Heb. 6:18), the Bible as originally given is true (Jn. 17:17). Changing verses that some don’t like introduces errors that lead people astray and God will hold people accountable for changing His truth into a lie (Rom. 1:25).

China announced plans to create a Chinese Christian theology to guide Christian activities in the nation— to ensure that all Christian activities conform to China’s national condition and culture. A big problem with this is the fact that China is officially an atheist nation.

Those who create this Chinese Christian theology will probably be atheists and the theology they come up with will probably be politically correct. Any theology that conforms to political correctness instead of the Bible is not Christian theology. If China gets away with this, other nations will soon follow.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis held meetings with Shimon Peres, Mahmoud Abbas, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, James Robinson and others to pray for peace in the Middle East, and to discuss the unification of the world’s religions. Some reports said the Pope read from the Koran and prayed to Allah.

One report said the Pope rejected fundamentalist Christians (those who believe in a strict literal interpretation of the Bible). The problem here is that those who voluntarily pray to Allah are religious, but they are not infallible and their hearts are not right with God.

Shimon Peres had another meeting with Pope Francis and asked him to call for a United Nations of Religions to represent the major religions in the world. Mr. Peres wants this United Nations of Religions to serve as a global moral force with authority that cannot be questioned. He wants it to be able to tell the world what God wants and what God doesn’t want.

One problem with this is that God gave the Bible to the world to tell us what He wants and doesn’t want. And what Mr. Peres wants to do would set aside the Bible and pave the way for the False Prophet to head up a one-world secular religion during the Tribulation period (Rev. 13:11-18).

Vice Pres Biden recently spoke out about the beheading of two journalists and said, “As a nation, we’re united. And when people harm Americans, we don’t retreat, we don’t forget.” He added, “We take care of those who are grieving (the reporter’s families) and when that’s finished, they (ISIS) should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they’ll reside.”

I agree, but if those in Washington don’t stop trying to divide Israel, spread homosexuality, spread humanism, support abortion, rewrite the Bible, etc., and if the church continues to be lukewarm (Rev. 3:16; 2 Chron. 7:14), America could very well wind up at the gates of hell without having to follow ISIS.

John Kerry said the book of Genesis gives America the command to save Muslim majority countries from Global Warming. But the book of Genesis does not mention America, Muslims or Global Warming. Just because someone says the Bible says something that does not mean the Bible says it.

In this case, John Kerry added to the Word of God even though God warned us not to do that (Rev. 22:18-19). Mr. Kerry is an embarrassment because he showed a lack of knowledge and disrespect for the Word of God. Man’s fall came when Adam and Eve distorted and misquoted Scripture (Gen. 3:1-5).

What people say reveals what is in their heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Matt. 12:34). Those whose hearts are right with God will respect the Scriptures and try to speak the truth. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things (Matt. 12:35).

Anyway, as I think about these things, I don’t think the real enemy is Pink Cross Publishing, China, Pope Francis, Shimon Peres, Vice Pres. Biden or even John Kerry. The apostle Paul said, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:11). Satan is real, he is a liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44).

These stories are examples of Satan’s efforts to replace true Christianity with a false religion (Rev. 13:7-8). This battle over the truth and sticking to it is here and it will get much worse. The world will eventually wind up with a global false religion (Rev. 17). When that false religion’s cup of iniquity is full God will put it into the hearts of the Ten Kings to destroy it (Rev. 17:16-17).

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymond.duck@yahoo.com

Whom Do You Fear in These Last Days?

Undoubtedly, the evidence is, for Christians this world is becoming more dangerous on a daily basis. Persecution of those who have a true faith in Jesus Christ has increased by an estimated 400% worldwide in the last 24 months alone. Yet, the True Church continues to grow, and is doing so in the places of greatest persecution. North Korea, over the past decade, has consistently been documented as the most hostile toward Christianity, yet it is estimated that the Church has grown from 200,000 to 400,000 faithful, during that same length of time. These numbers are not anomalous, almost the same type of growth has been experienced in China, India, Iran, and much of the African continent. The Church of Jesus Christ is alive, growing, and in spite of the suffering and persecution is living expectantly, longing and looking for His imminent return for His bride.

However, not everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ are boldly making a stand for Him in these Last Days. Many Christians (especially in the US), for divergent reasons, are “playing it safe” hoping to “slip under the radar” and avoid suffering and persecution. Rather than trusting God, they have developed a fear of man which is by extension, a fear of Satan. Jesus Christ promised that He would neither leave us nor forsake us, and that we should have no fear of what man might do to us. (Hebrews 13:5-6) In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promised that we would be blessed and rewarded for having suffered persecution in His Name. (Matthew 5:10-12) Jesus also told us that we can expect persecution because He was persecuted. (John 15:20) And, Paul told the Christians in the Philippian church that it was granted to them not only to believe in Jesus but to suffer for Jesus. (Philippians 1: 29) If you are granted something, it means it has been given to you or gifted to you, in other words, it is a privilege that you have received. So, we should count it a privilege when persecution comes, but rather than trusting God for their lives, many are caught in the snare of fearing man. (Proverbs 29:25)

Fearing man results in a failure to do what is right, what the Lord desires, in being obedient to His call on your life. It is yielding to your human nature rather than trusting in the Holy Spirit to protect and empower you in Jesus Name. Oftentimes a fear of man is the result of sinful pride in our lives. It manifests itself in thoughts like; “if I try to share my faith with them they will make fun of me,” or “I could lose my job if I don’t compromise,” or “Jesus understands that I’m not that type of a Christian.” These examples of prideful thoughts or actions show a concern for self, and fear of what man might say, rather than a fear of God.

Del Fehsenfeld Jr., the founder of Life Action Ministries, said there were 12 warning signs for the believer that they fear man rather than God.

• They are unwilling to pray aloud.
• They wear immodest or suggestive clothing.
• They become defensive when confronted about their actions.
• They are unwilling to be honest about their failures.
• They are critical of others; trying to find fault.
• They are greedy, seeking material wealth and reputation.
• They are unable to make clear decisions.
• They are harsh with their children and family in public.
• They are constantly fishing for compliments and commendation.
• They are always trying to “one-up” other people’s stories.
• They are unwilling to follow Christ in believer’s baptism or to verbally witness for Him.
• They display different behavior depending on whom they happened to be with.

Fear of man is quite simply a denial of Christ, weather it is a result of pride, or willful disobedience in giving Christ His rightful place in your life. The tent evangelist, Dr. Dolphus Price, said; “Many will go to hell because they are afraid of what their friends might say if they give their life to Christ.” The English preacher William Gurnall wrote; “We fear man so much, because we fear God so little.”

Today, the Church of Jesus Christ needs to return to a healthy reverence for, and fear of God. (Psalm 89:7; Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) We need to remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, about who we should fear and why. (Luke 12:4-9) Ultimately, the man who puts his trust in Jesus Christ is eternally safe no matter what he might face.The Apostle Paul, in his second letter to Timothy wrote; “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Again, this is a promise of a privilege given to the one who has given his life to serve Jesus Christ, and it is certainly no reason to fear man.

Paul goes on to encourage Timothy; “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” (2 Timothy 4: 2-5)

These words to Timothy in that day, are the words of Jesus Christ to us for today. Because the evidence is clear that we are living in the Last Days, we need to set aside the fear of man, and share Jesus Christ with absolutely everyone we can in obedience to His call on our lives. We need to convince people of the Truth of Jesus Christ in our lives, we need to rebuke those (false teachers and false prophets) who are not teaching the Truth of the Word of God, and we need to exhort new Christians or weaker Christians with patience and sound teaching of the Word. Many in this world have already turned away from the truth, many will not be redeemed because they have already given themselves over to Satan. But, we still need to evangelize everyone, because only God knows the condition of a man’s heart. We need to fulfill the calling God has placed on our lives, and continually watch, long for, and love the imminent appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds as He Raptures His Church!

Remember, a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) and the crown of life (Revelation 2:10) awaits. So put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-16), and having done all to stand; Stand Therefore!

EvenSoCome

The Condemnation of Israel as a Nation is Simply Hatred of the Jews!

Quite frankly, as a Preacher-Teacher of God’s Holy Word and a student of Biblical Eschatology, even though I am fully aware of End Time Prophecies and God’s plans for the Church, Israel, and the nations; I am sickened by the anti-Semitism which daily grows more virulent in the world. Merely one month ago I published an article entitled “Anti-Semitism, by any other name…” which established biblically Israel’s covenant right to exist in the land which God promised to them for eternity. I will not here repeat that article, but invite you to revisit it, or read it for the first time.

In response to what is now thousands of rockets fired on Israel and its citizens (since I published that article) by the terrorist organizations Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have made a military incursion into Gaza to eliminate that continued threat. In the most unusual display of humanitarianism in the annals of warfare, the IDF announced by telephone, and leaflets, where their airstrikes would take place, and since the incursion, have repeatedly warned civilians and non-combatants to move away from the areas of attack. Hamas however has given no such warnings of their rocket attacks on the citizens of Israel, and continually use their own women and children as human shields. For this incursion in defense of its citizens and sovereignty, the Nation State of Israel is being vilified around the world.

In just the past few days, rioting and anti-Jewish protests have risen in cities all across the world. In Europe rioting has taken place in cities in France (where synagogues have been attacked), Germany, the Netherlands, Great Britain and Spain. These protests and riots have also shown up in such divergent places as Thailand and Indonesia. In Canada protests have been seen in Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, and have even resulted in violence in Calgary. In the United States, protesters have been in evidence in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Houston, New Orleans, and in Boston Jews were physically assaulted. What is most alarming in all of these accounts, is that in every instance the vitriol has gone past a condemnation of Israel, to verbal and visual displays of hatred for Jewish people everywhere. Rather than death to Israel, chants of “kill the Jews, murder the Jews, gas the Jews,” are being heard in all of these protests. The only explanation for this is anti-Semitism.

On virtually every broadcast news channel and in almost every news publication, not only is anti-Semitism on display, it is in fact embraced and espoused by most of these organizations and their employees (I refuse to call them journalists because their bias is evident in their reports). They continually decry the casualties in Gaza (which now numbers near 800 and are the direct result of Hamas’s policy of using its own people as human shields) while ignoring the number of rockets fired into Israel by the terrorists. They also ignore the fact that since the incursion began, every opportunity which has been offered to Hamas for a cessation of hostilities has been rejected by the terrorist organization. The truth of the matter is, they believe that as more of their own people are killed (which is in truth is a result of their own actions), a sympathetic press, the UN and anti-Israel governments will eventually compel Israel to acquiesce to their demands.

One of the most troubling things to me about the reaction of these so-called news organizations, the United Nations, and others who are condemning Israel for the deaths of the nearly 800 Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, is the fact that somehow the deaths of thousands of Muslim Arabs as well as Christian Arabs at the hands of other Islamists does not meet with the same condemnation. In Syria over 150,000 Muslims have died at the hands of other Muslims, in Iraq thousands of Muslims and Christians have died at the hands of Muslims, in Libya thousands of Muslims have died at the hands of Muslims, in Mali thousands are dying at the hands of Muslim extremists, in Nigeria the Boko Haram have murdered thousands of Nigerian Muslims and Christians. Beyond the actions of Muslims, consider the fact that in North Korea thousands have been put to death by that communist regime, or that China continues to eradicate the ethnic Tibetans, or that ethnic cleansing continues in the Central African Republic and Burma, or that in Mexico, on the US’s southern border, well over 100,000 have been murdered by the drug cartels.

Why are all of these not met with the same outrage as is displayed toward Israel? Unfortunately I know the answer, it is because they are Jews. The fact of the matter is this, through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Psalm 105:7-11) whom, by the way, God renamed Israel, God chose Israel to be the people through which He would offer redemption and blessing to every person in every nation of the world. Along with that fact is the truth that because of this, Satan hates the Jews.

I hope that this article, as well as my other article on anti-Semitism, will serve as a warning to everyone who reads them. If any individual, any news organization or other business, any religion, any nation, and especially anyone who identifies themselves as a “Christian” speaks in condemnation of God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, they need to understand they face God’s judgment and wrath.

Study God’s Word, God’s Word is Truth, and today we are living in a time in which His revealed prophecy can be understood by those who diligently seek His wisdom. For those of us who study these things it is clear; now the end begins!

Jesus is coming soon!

EvenSoCome

America’s Future

A recent e-mail reads: “It drives me crazy that the Bible doesn’t say anything about America. I know that God is the Author of the Bible and He has His reasons for not mentioning America, but I want to know what is going to happen to America.”

I want to begin by saying that I believe America is in Bible prophecy. But this is just my opinion and not something the Bible says. I believe the United States will merge with Canada and Mexico to create the North American Union (NAU). And I believe the leaders of these nations will appoint a president of the NAU and he will be one of the Ten Kings.

Having said this, I am well aware that some believe “the people scattered and peeled” (Isa. 18), the “eagle’s wings” (Dan. 7), “the young lions” (Ezek. 38), the “great eagle” (Rev. 12) and “Babylon” (Rev. 18) refer to America. I understand that, but it is still my opinion that the United States will be a member of the NAU and we will be represented by one of the Ten Kings.

Now, before I started taking this position, I was among those who said, “I don’t know, but America may have been left out of Bible prophecy because America will experience a moral decline, a military decline, a sneak attack, or an economic collapse that will take her out of the picture.” It was just speculation, but many prophecy teachers realized that America had to be weakened so the world could be taken over by the evil Antichrist and his wicked world government.

Concerning a moral decline, America has kicked God and prayer out of our schools and government. Now, we have the highest STD infection rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest divorce rate, highest drug use rate and one of the highest abortion rates in the world. We produce more than 85% of the world’s pornography and some of our universities are actually teaching courses in it. Several states have legalized gambling, gay marriage and marijuana smoking. There is corruption in Washington, a lukewarm spirit in the church, no father in many homes and multitudes of children are born out-of-wedlock. I could go on, but just about anyone can tell that America has descended into the sewer and it is waxing worse and worse every day.

Concerning a military decline, early this year (2014) America’s Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, recommended major cuts to America’s military. That was followed by an announcement that two of our badly needed advanced cruise missiles (the Tomahawk and the Hellfire) will be totally eliminated by 2018; our army has already been cut by 30,000 troops in the last 18 months, it will be cut by 30,000 more by the end of next year, and another 40-70,000 by the end of this decade; our navy has already been cut to the point that it is now smaller than it has been since WW I; our air force is going to lose 500 planes by the end of this decade; our deployed nuclear missiles have been cut to 1550, Pres. Obama wants to cut that to 1,000 and he would like to eventually get down to 300. There is no way to honestly deny that America’s military is in serious free fall.

Concerning a sneak attack, North Korea, Iran, and several Islamic terrorist groups have long threatened to attack America. For many years, our nation was so strong talk like that was considered to be the chatter of foolish people. But that has changed for at least two reasons: 1) North Korea and Iran have both made major strides in their development of missiles and nuclear weapons, and 2) there is the danger that some of those weapons could fall into the hands of (or turned over to) terrorists. America’s military leaders now believe the threats should be taken seriously. But instead of strengthening our military, we are cutting it back.

Concerning an economic collapse, for more than a hundred years, America’s economy led the world and it was the envy of almost everyone. Now, some are saying that China will surge ahead of America before the end of this year. For years, foreign nations coveted the dollar, but now many would rather use their own currency. For years, foreign nations invested in U.S. Treasury Bonds, but now they don’t want them. Millions of Americans are on food stamps, millions can’t find a job, millions have stopped looking, millions have lost their homes and we are closing businesses faster than we are opening new ones. Many experts believe America is on the brink of an economic collapse.

Concerning America at the end of the age, the decades old speculations of many of America’s top prophecy teachers (moral decline, military decline, sneak attack or economic collapse) are now an embarrassing reality. God once blessed America, but now that we have kicked Him and prayer out we are disappearing from the global stage and fading from the prophetic picture.

Prophecy Plus Ministries
Daymond & Rachel Duck
daymondduck@bellsouth.net

*Editor’s Note*

While I understand Daymond’s explanation for “America” being in Bible Prophecy, and the fact that all regions of the world will be involved in the Tribulation and End Time events, I believe that the United States of America, as we know it, will cease to exist as a Moral, Political, Economic and Military power on the world stage. The scripture verses referenced above cannot be ascribed with any certainty to the US, and to do so, I believe, is to error in interpretation. These verses, in fact, have better representations. Very simply, the US must decline (and is) as End Time Prophecy is fulfilled, while “America” may become a part of the NAU.

K.D. Tucker Whitaker DD, PhD

Nearing Midnight – And the World Keeps Turning and Tilting

This week in our Signs of the Times commentary, we begin with a brief comment on the weather before we move to the major story of the week. In the US there were no significant or catastrophic weather events, but  drought conditions continued in Texas and in California, Kansas and Oklahoma. Something we now see cropping up is the specter of multi-day dust storms due to the excessively dry conditions. Parts of Kansas experienced a two day dust storm; last month Lubbock, Texas had a three day dust storm. People are beginning to compare conditions to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, mentioning the creation of the “Great American Desert” across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, real “Grapes of Wrath” type conditions. Given the severity of some of our weather events over the past few months, it is a blessing that America is not involved in Middle Eastern peace negotiations at present.

Middle East – The major story this past week has been the visit of Pope Francis to the Middle East. It was a trip viewed as quite significant and had much symbolism. It can also be seen as being an event which moves end times prophetical events further along:

  • Pope Francis began his trip in Palestinian controlled territory, signaling his sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause
  • He hugged and kissed the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who recently signed a unity agreement with the terror group Hamas; he referred to Muslims as dear brothers
  • The Pope publicly called for a “State of Palestine” which would be within the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. He used the term “State of Palestine” several times at differing locations as he spoke across the Middle East; even using it in his Bethlehem homily, showing both his own church and the Muslims that he favors creation of such a state in the Promised Land of Israel
  • The Pope invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinean President Mahmoud Abbas to a prayer summit at the Vatican in early June

Through all of his trip, the Pope spoke:

  • As if Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews.
  • Emphasizing that the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is the Holy Land.
  • Noting that the Dome of the Rock reminds him of the three great faiths — Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
  • Noting that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe they were created by God and are destined for eternal life.

In doing these things, Pope Francis is showing he has been influenced by the views of many Middle Eastern Catholic bishops who deny Israel’s right to the land and is fueling the anti-Semitism that exists within the Roman Catholic Church. We are seeing the blending of politics and religion in the region that the End Times prophetical events will come to pass. We see the move toward a one world religion, and it clearly appears that the unification of world religions is an agenda topic of Pope Francis.

While the Pope was visiting the Holy Land, there were other signs of the coming one world religion. Bishop Tony Palmer, the man who delivered “the protest is over” message to Kenneth Copland is continuing to call for the unification of all “Christian” denominations, calling for all Protestant denominations to sign the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which is supposed to be the official end of the protest. He calls for a new day of Christianity, effectively calling for Protestants to live in a post-Protestant world. And you know who expects to be the head of this unified church. This is all part of the growing pressure on evangelical Christians to embrace Catholicism as one more Christian denomination in an attempt to make ecumenicism within Christianity one of the driving forces behind a move to a one world religion.

The American State – Tolerance continues to go down a bifurcated path in American society. President Obama makes a speech at West Point this past week, citing terrorism as the number one threat to our country, stating it repeatedly, but refusing to name the source of the threat or its ideological roots. Once more, a pattern of refusing to acknowledge or allow discussion of jihad or Islam and the connection to terrorism. Meanwhile, Stacey Dash, an actress of African-American and Mexican descent, known for her support of Mitt Romney in the last presidential election, was hired by Fox News to provide cultural analysis and commentary. Dash, well known for her conservative views, is savagely attacked on social media sites by liberals and members of the black community; being called crazy, a turncoat, self-hating and useless. Apparently, your race does matter to your politics among the tolerant left in America.

On the economic front, the U.S. gross domestic product dropped 1% in the first quarter of 2014, many economic analysts felt it would have dropped 2% without all the increased spending on Obamacare, raising concerns in some of another recession being upon us. But many mainstream economists shrugged the drop off, calling for 3 to 4 % growth in the second quarter with no real reasoning behind these claims, blaming the current reports on a severe winter. All this while exports dropped around 6% in the first quarter, there are growing concerns of stagnant retail sales (in a country that has 3 to 8 times the retail space per capita of anyone else), we have a reported unemployment rate of just over 6%, yet 1 in 5 households have no one working, and many cities have rates in the mid-teens. Does this make sense to anyone?

Domestically, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki resigned under the pressure of the scandal of delayed care for veterans as a result of enrollment practices for benefits. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney resigned as well, one can imagine the toll it takes on a person having to defend the administration’s position on all sorts of scandals.

On the foreign policy front, the President’s announcement that troops in Afghanistan will be reduced to 9,800 by the end of 2014, and to zero by end of 2016 signals the end of about 15 years of war and demonstrates another American foreign policy failure, one of which four American presidential administrations can share in. A speech yesterday by Defense Secretary Hagel that China was a destabilizing influence with its territorial ambitions was met with harsh criticism and condemnation by Chinese officials, demonstrating the strained relationships with China that mirror the strain between the US and Russia. We make speeches, while others lay claim to more and more territory in outright defiance to the US, and seemingly, little intention to curb their territorial appetite based on the wishes of the United States.

As you think of the fact that America has no place in Biblical prophecy in the End Times, why should it be a surprise that we as a nation have leaders who refuse to acknowledge and address what is going on in this country. We will continue our slide from importance into irrelevance in the course of world events in the prophetical stage now being set.

Russia/Ukraine –A top Kremlin adviser accused the US of trying create a military conflict between Russia and Europe over the Ukraine, stepping up the war of words between the US and Russia over the Ukrainian situation. He called the situation in the Ukraine chaotic, and a de facto war. Pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter killing 14.  Meanwhile, US Defense Department officials are claiming that Russia troops are pulling back from the Ukrainian border, while we also denied US mercenaries are operating in the Ukraine. They accuse us of war mongering, we accuse them of retreating. Sounds like we are dealing from weakness once again.

European Union –European Union leaders are meeting to determine how to stay in power in the wake of European Parliament elections that have been described as a drubbing for the mainstream parties. The number of members of the parliament that are from “Eurosceptic” parties (United Kingdom Independence Party and National Front in France) has doubled. The power of Brussels (home of EU) is bothersome to many, especially in the UK, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. But calls for “less Europe” will be hard to realize, and many of the leaders (Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France and Renzi of Italy) believe the movement will lose force when the economy improves and unemployment drops.

The world is turning, but the world does seem to be tilting a little more each day. Yet, as the True Church we know these things (or at least events in general) must move inn this direction, the world must slide towards the abyss and get to the point that only the return of Jesus Christ can save humanity from itself, from its since and defiance of a most holy God. Stand your ground, stand firm for your beliefs, preach Christ, and Him crucified, and take heart.  Because we know that…

Jesus is coming soon!

 

 

 

Signs of the Times: Our Financial and Economic Slide Continues

This post will have no deadlines, no time-frames, and no predictions of what will happen when, at least I will try to stay away from that sort of talk. There, that probably drove most of the readers away, so only those truly interested will be reading from here on.  With that being said, there is much going on that can have an impact on the US economy, in the shorter term as well as the longer run.

Russia and China – let’s face it, neither likes the US, and haven’t for some time. It seems our allies and/or enemies have tolerated us, but that degree of tolerance, and the willingness to do so, is diminishing. In recent weeks, Russia and China have engaged in some international trade that has all the appearances of leaving the US out of the picture. Russia, the world’s largest producer of natural gas, and China, quickly moving toward status as the world’s largest economy, have signed a deal by which Russia will provide gas over 30 years in a deal worth around 400 billion dollars in value. This is an ironic way to speak on valuing the deal, as both countries are also setting up to settle their international trade in their own currencies, cutting the US Dollar out as the settlement currency. We have already talked about the financial and economic impact of such moves in earlier posts. If you read the recent post on worldwide famine here, you know that an economic disruption in the US could trigger food insecurity across the US. On the world scene, players like Russia and China are finding the United States less relevant (and certainly less feared and/or tolerated), this could begin to equate to domestic shifts that seemed impossible just a few years ago. Surprised? I am a bit surprised at the rapidity, but I have read the book of Revelation in the Bible, this does seem to line up with a role for the US in End Times Prophecy. Go look for our role there (Spoiler alert: you will not find one).

Domestic US – look at what is going on here, a brief scan will suffice:

  • We are becoming increasing brutal to our homeless population, and those down on their luck. US cities are passing laws making it illegal to feed the homeless, shutting down ministries that attempt to do so, and bulldozing the temporary living space (“tent cities”) these unfortunates dwell in trying to cope.
  • Businesses are closing in rates faster than new businesses are being created. That smells like more and more recessionary activity within our economy. Some economists expect the US economy to be in a depression for the next five years, a bad one. (OK, one predictive statement crept in, sorry). Corporate profits and retail sales volumes seem to be dropping as well. Sears is closing stores and those who follow the company and retail industry are talking about  Sears  survival. Sears?
  • In 1 of 5 American families, no one is employed. Household debt continues to rise. People are buying things they cannot afford, and it isn’t things they don’t need, it is necessities that are being purchased.
  • During the decade of the 1990’s, twice as many mothers were employed full time than there were mothers who received Food Stamps, today more mothers receive Food Stamps than the number of mothers who have any kind of employment.
  • US industrial production is dropping and manufacturing jobs keep disappearing. You know the type of jobs where things get built and sold, where value is created and wealth is accumulated.
  • Western banks are showing revenue declines. George Soros is thought to be unloading his portfolio of bank stocks.
  • Home ownership rates are dropping, real estate sales declining, unsold home inventories building. There are lots of homes for sale and fewer buyers.
  • There are more people living on social security disability in the US than there are people in Greece.

I could go on, but you see the picture, which is not only not pretty, it is getting downright ugly. There is no American dream, no promises of prosperity we can hold on to, the slide continues, improvement does not seem to be appearing on the horizon.

For the Christian, it is not a surprise but a sober reminder of the truth of the Word of God and the need to turn to Him in obedience. We cannot solve our problems, we are proving that daily. In these difficult times, which grow harder daily, it is only through steadfast faith that one can make it through without losing one’s temper or sanity; one’s mercy and compassion for others; one’s desire to help other believers and pray for and evangelize those who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as we do.

Is there good news in all this? Stay faithful, stay obedient, wait eagerly, possibly anxiously. Because…

Jesus is coming soon!