Archive for January 30th, 2006

Jesus Casts Out “Legion”

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee.
And when He came out onto the land, He was met by a man from the city who was possessed with demons; and who had not put on any clothing for a long time, and was not living in a house, but in the tombs.
Seeing Jesus, he cried out and fell before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You, do not torment me.”
For He had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For it had seized him many times; and he was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.
And Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him.
They were imploring Him not to command them to go away into the abyss.
Now there was a herd of many swine feeding there on the mountain; and the demons implored Him to permit them to enter the swine. And He gave them permission.
And the demons came out of the man and entered the swine; and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.
When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they ran away and reported it in the city and out in the country.
The people went out to see what had happened; and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting down at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they became frightened.
Those who had seen it reported to them how the man who was demon-possessed had been made well.
And all the people of the country of the Gerasenes and the surrounding district asked Him to leave them, for they were gripped with great fear; and He got into a boat and returned.
But the man from whom the demons had gone out was begging Him that he might accompany Him; but He sent him away, saying,
“Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him.
Luke 8:26-39 (New American Standard Bible)

Re-Post: Nearing Midnight for January 30th (Part 2)

Monday, January 30th, 2006

God’s Prophecy Not Enough?

People have, over the years–following the completed Word of God, with its 66 books–made predictions based upon dreams and, less frequently, upon visions. Despite all of the twisting of logic and rewriting of historical record, both recent and of the past that is far removed from the present, the non-biblical dreams and visions have proved to be non-events.
Oh, people can find things supposedly fulfilled within the quatrains written by the French “seer” Nostradamus. His and others’ “prophesies” are declared by many as having come to pass, as demonstrated by the rise of Adolf Hitler and the advent of other “foretold” regimes and events.
I have heard stories of blazing fires in the major cities of the U.S., “prophesied” by both well-known and lesser-known preachers of various stripes. America was going to be judged and destroyed by God’s mighty hand in the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Now there are predictions –and I get them constantly through e-mail–of the most horrendous fate imaginable for the United States, based upon dreams of the most detailed variety. The dream date-setters missed January 23 on just such a prediction. A married couple saw all of the things we’ve been warned about –American cities aflame, getting exactly what she deserves. They saw the dreams that were almost identical, so the story goes. January 23 (Monday last) was to be America’s judgment day. Defenders of the couples missing the target are saying that their appeals for prayers that the Lord would spare the nation and give America another chance were likely the reason the dreams didn’t become reality.
Now, folks, may I say this as gently as possible? What sort of fodder does such dreamstuff –which is always claimed to emanate from the very throne of God—give Satan’s army in this fallen world that he so effectively rules already? Is it not time to stop disseminating these bad cases of nocturnal indigestion during somnolence –or whatever is prompting such utter nonsense? Do we never learn that these are not from the Lord our God, after every single one of the “prophecy–dreams” have failed to produce a single proof of their validity?
I get them every week. If every one I’ve been sent just since January 1 of this year came true within the time allotted, you wouldn’t be reading this. But, I wouldn’t be writing it, either! We would all be finished! A bit of prayerful and well-studied speculation is within the realm of being good “watchmen,” as Jesus exhorted in Mark 13: 37 and Luke 21: 28. But dreams and visions that are extra-biblical are not right to either issue or receive. They are either bad spaghetti, absolute falsehoods, or “dreams and visions” that emanate from somewhere other than from the throne room of God.
God’s “dreams and visions,” you see, ALWAYS COME TRUE!
My apologies for screaming at you in this cybertext, but we’ve got to realize that dreams and visions that are not already in God’s Word–the Bible—are, well, not from His Son, Jesus Christ, the Living Word. His prophecy ALWAYS comes true –every time, without exception. And that prophecy is based upon the consistent principles laid out plainly in the Word He left us in the form of God’s great love letter, the Holy Bible.
“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 1: 19-2: 1).
I know the cry that will be forthcoming. “That same Bible says: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams’” (Acts 2:17).
Agreed. Very strong proof text that these dreams will again be in effect, following the Bible’s completion, when the last prophet wrote the last prophecy.
But, to understand Acts 2:17, we must also understand that the following, in this New Testament passage, is taken from the Old Testament, which puts it in proper context.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams” (Joel 2:28).
This is what is meant by the above Scripture, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture. Scripture must be looked at in total context; it cannot be dissected and used any way the user wishes.
So what does this earlier passage in Joel say, to give context to the latter in Acts? The key is given by the words: “And it shall come to pass afterward…” Specifically, the operative word is “afterward.”
The Word of God plainly teaches in the preceding 27 passages and before that the day of the Lord–the tribulation–must first have taken place. These wondrous “dreams and visions” for a time yet future are for the glorious days of the millennium!
Still, I realize I will get all kinds of arguments about this. So, let me just ask those who would do the rock throwing: “Where are your dreams and visions that have come 100 percent–or even 10 percent–true, by Bible standards, God’s standards?”
These exercises in hyperbole and sensationalism must stop, for the sake of the Gospel of Christ. Let us simply watch and try to determine the times and seasons we are in, so far as God’s prophetic timeline is concerned. But, let us do so through God’s microscope of Bible truth. Let’s not try to build personal reputations upon false prognostications –or bad pizza.


Re-Post: Nearing Midnight for January 30th (Part 1)

Monday, January 30th, 2006

The Mad Man Running Iran

In recent months, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly been in the news over his efforts to advance his nation’s nuclear program. He has also been in the headlines for making some rather outrageous comments around Israel. He called for the destruction of the Jewish state, denied the Holocaust ever took place, and said that Israel should be relocated to Europe.
I’m sure Washington and Israel are very concerned about what type of man is now running Iran.
Ahmadinejad came to power through a grass roots effort. He reportedly spent no money on his presidential campaign; He won by getting the backing of powerful conservatives who used their network of mosques to mobilize support for him. His presidential campaign focused on poverty, social justice and the distribution of wealth inside Iran.
When Ahmadinejad was mayor of Tehran, he made reform his top priority. He seemed to be a man immune to corruption. For several years, he has lived in a very small house. Even as President, he remains dedicated to a life of modesty.
Iran’s President is no Mother Teresa. He has another dimension to his personality that is dedicated to fulfilling a messianic mission. In November, a video surfaced showing Mr. Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September. He claimed to have been bathed in a divine light as he spoke at the UN.
When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr. Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: “What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”
Iran’s president blamed Britain and the United States for two bombings that killed at least nine people in the southwestern city of Ahvaz. “Traces of the occupiers of Iraq are evident in the Ahvaz events. They should take responsibility in this regard,” said Ahmadinejad on State TV.
Ahmadinejad has surrounded himself with men who closely share his views. This past week, the Iranian defense minister made a shocking comment about Israel using Ariel Sharon’s unfortunate health situation. “Zionists should know that if they do anything evil against Iran, the response of Iran’s armed forces will be so firm that it will send them into eternal coma, like Sharon,” Gen. Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said.
The most disturbing aspect of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s views is his devotion to a divine savior, known as the Mahdi, who will appear in the last days. He and his cabinet have signed a “contract,” pledging to work for the return of the Mahdi.
Ahmadinejad believes that Israel and America are somehow preventing the appearance of the Mahdi. Their sneaking suspicion is that he actually relishes a clash with the West in the conviction that it would rekindle the spirit of the Islamic revolution and speed up the arrival of the Hidden Imam.
I believe that Ahmadinejad is something of mad man – not the kind that sees a pink elephant, but rather the kind that is so fixated on accomplishing a task that he disregards rational thinking.
Once Israel or the US feels that Iran is near the point of gaining nuclear weapons, I expect to see a precision attack on that nation’s nuclear facilities. If that strike takes place, a number of events could be set into motion. Some of the end-time related possibilities: Hezbollah could attack Israel; Syria may join the fray; or Russia may move into the confrontation. In any case, it’s wise to be watchful.


Hamas hints long-term truce, demanding Israel change flag

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Well, how about that…the pali terrorist want a truce. You can bet they would obey it as well as they always have; in other words, they won’t. They (and the rest of the world) will expect Israel to obey it while they break it over and over again. I say “No Way”. Oh yeah, the pali terrorist are so stupid they don’t even understand the meaning of the two stripes on the Israeli flag. They say it stands for “symbols of occupation”. What they actually stand for are the Talit, or Jewish prayer shawl, which is traditionally striped.

JERUSALEM – Hamas, which catapulted to power in last week’s Palestinian elections, might soon offer Israel a long-term cease fire but will not recognize Israel’s right to exist, the terror group’s chief Mahmoud al-Zahar told WorldNetDaily yesterday after earlier demanding the Jewish state change it’s official flag.
Al-Zahar’s comments follow a
WND exclusive interview in which a top Hamas leader said his group will soon make public a “peace initiative” in which it will offer to trade strategic land with Israel, cease attempts to capture parts of Jerusalem, and sign a 10-year renewable truce with the Jewish state with the aim of later destroying Israel.
“I am not ruling out a long truce period with Israel during which we will hold back armed confrontation as long as the Israeli soldiers respect the truce and do not commit violence against the Palestinian people,” said al-Zahar, speaking to WND by cell phone from the Gaza Strip.
Israel routinely conducts operations against terror groups in Gaza and the West Bank aimed at halting suicide bombings, shooting attacks and rocket firing. Hamas openly targets Israeli civilians.
Al-Zahar deflected a question about whether he will modify Hamas’ official charter, which calls for jihad against Israel “by assaulting and killing.”
Earlier he demanded Israel “remove the two blue stripes from its national flag. The stripes on the flag are symbols of occupation. They signify Israel’s borders stretching from the River Euphrates to the River Nile.”
Israel’s national flag, adopted from a previously used Zionist movement flag, features a star of David within two blue stripes. The stripes signify the Talit, or Jewish prayer shawl, which is traditionally striped.
Al-Zahar’s statements regarding a possible long-term ceasefire coincide with a top Hamas leader’s outline to WND of a “peace initiative,” which the leader justified using Islamic tradition and said is a temporary machination to ease international and U.S. hostility toward his group in hopes of receiving financial assistance.
“We will be ready for a long interim agreement based on a period of cease-fire that can go to 10 or even 15 years like it was done by the prophet Muhammad with the enemies of the Muslims,” said the senior Hamas official, who spoke on condition his name be withheld, since he said he was “revealing confidential operative information.”
Hamas leaders, including overall Hamas chief Khaled Meshal, who resides in Syria, formulated a “peace proposal” they agreed would be acceptable to their group in which the Palestinians would offer to trade certain lands with Israel, the top Hamas official revealed.
“With the territories we will be ready to discuss the possibility that the three big settlement compounds will remain under the power of the occupation (Israel), and in exchange we will receive territories for the Palestinian independent state,” said the Hamas leader.
The leader told WND the “three settlements” he was referring to are Ariel and Gush Etzion, two large regions in the West Bank that contain many of the area’s major Jewish communities, and western and peripheral sections of Jerusalem, which he said Hamas considers “Israeli settlements.” Jews have resided in Jerusalem, which is mentioned more than 800 times in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, for over 3,000 years.
Hamas, in exchange for the three areas, would want the eastern sections of Jerusalem, the parts of the southern Israeli Negev desert that border the Gaza Strip and the Jordan Valley, which extends from outside Jerusalem toward Jordan and encompasses most of Israel’s major water supplies.
The Hamas official indicated his group may be willing to compromise on its territorial demands.
“We are most interested in Jerusalem and the Negev,” the leader said.
The leader then justified the Hamas “peace plan” using Islamic history.
“The Muslim hero Saladin gave up land when he gave Acco to the Crusaders in order to keep Jerusalem. Therefore, I say that the possibility of the exchange of territories existed already in the history of Islam and it cohabitates with our principle that all of Palestine is a dedicated land from Allah, may he be blessed to the Muslims, and no one has the right to give up any part of it,” said the leader.
There have been concerns that when it assumes control, Hamas may impose hard-line Islamic law on the Palestinians. Yesterday, Hamas gunmen placed the group’s flag on the Palestinian parliament building in Ramallah and reportedly announced Hamas will soon rule the area by shariah law. Hamas reportedly has banned Western music events and established hard-line Islamic courts. Israel says the group has an “Anti-Corruption Unit” that enforces Islamic rules.
But the Hamas official told WND his terror organization will not impose Islamic law, “in order to reduce the hostility of the international community and the government of Israel [toward Hamas]. We will not take any initiative to change the way of life of the Palestinian people. … I tell you we will surprise everyone with our new attitude.”
The leader explained his group will create a governing coalition it feels will help garner financial assistance from European countries, including allowing another party to hold the foreign affairs and internal security portfolios and likely keeping the PA’s current minister of finance, Salaem Fayyad, who largely is acceptable to the international community.
The Hamas leader said his group will not abandon its goal of destroying Israel.
“When I speak about a long cease-fire and a temporary agreement, it means that we do not recognize the right of the state of the occupation on our lands, but we will accept its existence temporarily,” said the leader.
The leader insisted the policies are based on the formulation Hamas will not be able to defeat Israel in the near future, but he said his group is confident it ultimately will be “victorious.”
“I do not see the Palestinian people and Islamic nation succeeding to liberate this blessed land of Palestine in the very near future,” he said. “This is an Islamic land and the Jews are invited to live in Palestine and the Muslims will guaranty their safety and honor. … But we will never give up our right for the whole of Palestine. We should be realistic to admit that the mission for the liberation of Palestine will pass on to the coming generations.”

EU Approves Ban on ‘Homophobia’; Christians Remain Silent

Monday, January 30th, 2006

For those who don’t think this can happen in the United States, I recommend you take a reality break. The liberal courts are more then happy to consider foreign law as they make decisions about our laws. With the “success” of the homosexual agenda to be considered “normal”, Christians are going to have to take a very firm stand on this, or like Europe, roll over and let it happen.

(AgapePress) – The European Union has unanimously approved a resolution banning “homophobia.” A Christian attorney in Mississippi explains why that should concern the citizens of the United States.
The resolution, called “Homophobia in Europe,” defines homophobia as “an irrational fear and aversion of homosexuality and of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people based on prejudice, similar to racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism.” It calls for action against member states that do not implement programs directed at fair treatment of homosexuals in employment and occupation. It also seeks to “ensure that same-sex partners enjoy the same respect, dignity and protection as the rest of society.”
Steve Crampton, chief counsel for the American Family Association
Center for Law & Policy, says although the resolution is not law, it could eventually affect the United States.
Steve Crampton”Our Supreme Court seems enamored with citing to foreign sources of law,” Crampton observes. And if that mindset continues, he fears that “what happens in the European Union today is going to become the law and policy of America tomorrow.”
For that reason, the attorney advises that family advocates in the U.S. “absolutely … should be concerned about this — and we should be rising up right now before it’s too late,” he adds.
Crampton asserts that the EU resolution is just further proof that society is continuing its slide toward moral depravity. “When you consider that [approval of the measure came] by a vote of almost four-to-one — and it was basically a restatement of the radical homosexual agenda — there is great cause for concern for those of us who adhere to the traditional, biblical teachings that homosexual conduct is sinful,” he says.
The “Homophobia in Europe” resolution was passed by a vote of 468-149; there were 41 abstentions. Christians and conservatives did not protest the resolution, prompting one former member of Britain’s Parliament and a homosexual rights advocate to say that the “lunatic fringe” — Christians and conservatives — have learned that “it does not pay anymore to shout against gays and lesbians in the Parliament itself.”

Re-post: Letter to Rev. John H. Thomas, U.C.C. from Dexter Van Zile, The David Project

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Thursday, January 26, 2006
The Rev. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115-1000

Rev. Thomas:
I write to you both in my capacity as Christian Outreach Director for the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership and as a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ. As you are aware, I have been highly critical of the stance the UCC and other mainline Protestant denominations in the U.S. have taken in regards to the Arab/Israeli conflict. The failure of Protestants in the U.S. to speak honestly about problems in Arab and Muslim societies that inhibit the prospects for peace in the Middle East, coupled with an undeniable tendency to blame Israel – and only Israel – for the conflict’s existence raises troubling questions about Protestant attitudes toward Judaism as a religion and the Jews as a people. For one reason or another, mainline Protestant leaders in the U.S. are gripped by a tendency to think the worst about the Jewish State its policies and its motives, without taking into consideration the circumstances its leaders – and people – confront on a daily basis.
The recent outcome of the recent elections in the Palestinian Authority has prompted me to write. Hamas, an organization dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel, has won a large majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.Hamas’ victory, though no surprise, raises grave concerns about Israeli security, the welfare of Christians in Palestinian society and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.
The corruption of the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat (an ongoing problem which was ignored by the peace-making resolutions passed at the UCC’s General Synod in July) and the subsequent failure of Mahmoud Abbas to rein in this corruption is one factor in the Hamas success.
It is not, however, the only factor. Many Palestinians are committed to the destruction of Israel as a Jewish State and for this reason, Hamas was their logical choice. Regardless of the motivations behind the Hamas victory, it does not bode well for Israeli security or for Palestinian welfare. Hamas’ founding document calls for the destruction of Israel and the imposition of sharia law in the Palestinian State. Such an agenda has profound implications for the safety of Jews in Israel, for the status of women and the welfare of Christians in areas under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. Ominously, Hamas leaders have stated that they will not change one word of their covenant calling for Israel’s destruction – despite their success at the polls. It does not appear that the acquisition of power will result in Hamas’ moderation as some would have hoped.
Sadly, the public pronouncements issued by the UCC’s leadership in Cleveland and by its General Synod provide little if any context for Hamas’ victory in yesterday’s elections. The resolutions, as they were written and passed, with direct input from the denomination’s leadership in Cleveland, expressed no expectations of the Palestinians to work for peace.
In particular, the Tear Down the Wall resolution, written with substantial input from Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem and professionally framed by Peter Makari, Area Executive for Middle East and Europe Global Ministries for the UCC, demanded that Israel take down the security fence it is building to prevent terror attacks emanating from the West Bank, without asking the Palestinians to stop the attacks that prompted the Israelis to build the barrier in the first place.
This is not peacemaking, but a clear effort to place the onus for the conflict on the Israelis. It is one thing to ask that the barrier be moved to a more acceptable location, but asking Israelis to take it down altogether – without asking Palestinians to stop suicide attacks – exhibits a troubling naïveté about the Arab/Israeli conflict and an inexcusable indifference to the murder of Israeli civilians.
The Tear Down the Wall resolution embodies a persistent habit of mind exhibited by Protestant leaders in the U.S. – a tendency to portray Palestinian terrorism as an unavoidable response to suffering caused by Israeli security measures. I ask, beg and implore you to fight this impulse. Rooting Palestinian suffering almost entirely – if not entirely – in Israeli policies, as leaders from UCC and other denominations have done, denies the Palestinians moral agency and ultimately undermines their motivation to build a future for themselves and their children. It also allows leaders in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East to continue to use the Palestinians to promote radical and dictatorial agendas in their own countries without so much as a rhetorical slap on the wrist.
The failure of the UCC to express any expectations of the Palestinians to work for peace is rooted in unwillingness on the part of the UCC to speak prophetically about problems endemic to the Middle East. In particular, there is a taboo on discussion in mainline Protestant circles about the religious motivation for the war against Israel. For many Muslim scholars and their followers in the Middle East, the existence of a Jewish state on land previously governed by Islamic rulers is a theological impossibility. For Hamas, the thought of Jewish sovereignty and freedom in the Middle East is intolerable. To be sure, not every Palestinian feels this way, but it must be noted that Hamas did win a strong majority in the recent election.
If Protestant leaders in the U.S., including those in the UCC, are going to condemn Christian Zionism as a threat to peace, they have an obligation to acknowledge the religious motivation of violence against Israel. Religiously-motivated hostility toward Israel, which Hamas embodies, turns the conflict from a disagreement over borders and settlements into a fight over its existence, an issue over which their can be no compromise. Sadly, the UCC has remained silent about the religious hostility that motivates many of the terror attacks against Israeli civilians.
Hamas’ victory underscores problems in Palestinian society that help to prolong the conflict and encourage violence against Israelis. These problems include anti-Jewish incitement on Palestinian Television, hostile, anti-Semitic passages in Palestinian textbooks, and the PA’s financial support to families of suicide bombers, who, in some instances, have official soccer tournaments named in their honor. Sadly, the UCC and its leaders have offered little, if any, acknowledgement of these problems.
If UCC leaders are going to call for a two-state solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict in their efforts to promote peace and improve the welfare of the Palestinian people, they have an obligation. They must acknowledge those aspects of Palestinian society that represent an obstacle to creating a state that can live in peace with Israel and secure the human rights of its citizens. Calling for the creation of a Palestinian state while remaining silent about collapse of civil order in Gaza encourages the creation of nothing more than a failed state that oppresses its own people and menaces its neighbors.
If Protestants in the U.S. are going to invoke America’s “special relationship” with Israel as justification for the focus on its misdeeds, they have an obligation to acknowledge the support terrorists targeting Israel have received from Syria, Iran and up until recently, Iraq. The UCC has remained silent about this support.
At this point, I feel compelled along with many others to ask that you rethink your unqualified support for Naim Ateek, founder and director of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. His repeated use of deicide imagery is clearly intended to evoke feelings of contempt for Israel as a Jewish state. It is not, as he and his defenders assert, merely an attempt to portray Palestinian suffering in the “Language of the Cross.” It is important to note these statements were offered at the height of the Second Intifada, which killed thousands of Israelis and Palestinians. The use of this imagery did not calm the flames of hostility and fear, but fueled them.
It should be noted that Ateek has, on numerous occasions, stated that he does not acknowledge Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state in the Middle East and has even repeated the canard that Israel should have been created in Europe. Sadly, on this score, Ateek’s words have been echoed by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who you laudably condemned for calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. This echo should be cause for concern amongst those who would defend Ateek and the group he leads as peacemakers.
Dexter Van Zile
Christian Outreach Director
David Project Center for Jewish Leadership
Boston, Mass.