Archive for May 20th, 2009

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Jacobs Ladder

There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Genesis 28:10-15 (New International Version)

Ministers to Fight Against Criminalization of Christianity

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

America has become a morally bankrupt society that embraces intolerance against Christians, including a new push for “hate crimes” legislation, according to one pastor who believes it’s all because church leaders have failed to do their jobs.

But this Memorial Day weekend he is calling ministers to fight for those freedoms – from their pulpits.

“Pastors, if you wonder who is to blame for America’s slide from the ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ morality of yesteryear to the ‘Brokeback Mountain’ immorality of today, look in the mirror,” said Pastor Paul Blair of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Okla.

Blair is founder of a group called Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ, an outreach to pastors that encourages church leaders to take a stand against the spread of immorality in American culture. He is urging pastors across the nation to stop being silent and muster the courage to speak out against efforts to criminalize Christianity. He said church leaders have abandoned the prophetic call and have chosen instead to be CEOs of competitive church businesses rather than proclaiming “faith in Christ alone and repentance from sin.”

Concerned individuals may contact elected officials, sign a petition against hate crimes legislation and participate in WND’s FedEx campaign to send thousands of letters to senators by overnight delivery.

“Pastors used to speak strongly about issues – like when Billy Sunday led a crusade, and the next thing you know, liquor was outlawed. So they made a difference,” he said. “The year 1954 is when pastors began to grow timid because, all of the sudden, they had this misguided notion that they might lose their tax exemption if they made too much noise.”

Shortly after ministers grew silent, prayer and Bible reading were taken out of schools. The sexual revolution immediately followed, along with Roe v. Wade. Now, he said, attacks on Christian liberty and morality have become more brazen and coordinated than ever – with widespread movements to legalize homosexual marriage, the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to profile Christians as “potential terrorists” and strategies to silence pastors through hate crimes legislation.

As WND has reported, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 would provide special protections to homosexuals but leave Christian ministers open to prosecution should their teachings
be linked to any subsequent offense, by anyone, against a homosexual.

A hearing on the act, already approved by the U.S. House as H.R. 1913 and pending in the Senate as S. 909, is expected in the Senate Judiciary Committee soon.

Under a comparable law in Sweden, a minister was sentenced to 30 days in jail for preaching from Leviticus. Similar state laws have resulted in similar results. In Philadelphia several years ago, a 73-year-old grandmother was reported to have been jailed for trying to share Christian tracts with people at a homosexual festival.

WND columnist Dave Welch, founder and executive director of the U.S. Pastor Council and Houston Area Pastor Council, has warned, “Hate crimes legislation, which assigns different levels of punishment for the same crime, is a perversion of equal justice on its face. Compound that injustice by criminalizing the preaching of Scripture as “hate speech” and therefore evil, while protecting unimaginable and abominable sexual behaviors as good, and we are building a perfect storm for national calamity.”

Blair is stepping up the effort by calling on “patriot pastors” to lead their congregations in three areas: 1) evangelizing and leading people to Christ to change the culture 2) educating people about the truth of America’s Christian heritage and real threats like the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and 3) contacting elected representatives by writing letters and participating in petition drives.

His church is planning a special Memorial Day weekend sermon where he will bring in a 150-foot crane to fly the American flag as he warns his congregation of attacks on freedom.

“We absolutely will be addressing the fact that freedom isn’t free,” he said. “We’ll talk about the great sacrifice that was paid for the liberty we enjoy and how there are attacks on that liberty not just abroad, but here at home.”

Ministers should never underestimate their roles in preserving America’s freedom, Blair said. According to President John Adams, colonial pastors were the single group most responsible for America’s independence.

“They were the best educated of citizens, understood the precious value of liberty from tyranny and taught their congregations a true biblical worldview,” he said. “As Pastor John Witherspoon, a signer of the Declaration and member of Congress, recognized, ‘There is not a single instance in history, in which civil liberty was lost, and religious liberty preserved.'”

Patriot pastors led in the great spiritual revival of the 18th century known as the Great Awakening, Blair noted. And patriot pastors educated their communities and led them in the fight for liberty in America.

“Thank God that our patriot pastors of yesteryear weren’t trained with a modern seminary education,” he said.

Representatives told Blair if they get five calls on a particular issue, they take notice. So, he would like to see what would happen if hundreds or thousands of people called lawmakers.

“Just think, if pastors would get up on their pulpits and teach folks about how the issues of today are going to affect them and then lead them, we can make a difference,” he said. “The problem is we don’t hear the truth. We don’t hear it in the media, we don’t hear it in schools and our pastors have been taught to remain silent.”

But Blair said he intends to change that.

“Brethren, it’s our turn,” he said. “As we reflect this Memorial Day weekend on the great price paid for the liberty that we enjoy, let us not lose that same liberty on our watch. Join with a group of patriot pastors across our nation and teach your flock about this dangerous hate crimes legislation and lead them in combating this brazen effort to criminalize Christianity in America.”

Original Link.

Senate to Reject Guantanamo Closure Plan

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

The US Senate has said it will reject a White House call for funding to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The Senate will join the House of Representatives in stripping $80m (£52m) from a war funding bill meant for the camp, at a naval base in Cuba.

Democrats and Republicans argue that there needs to be a better plan for closing the camp where 240 terrorist suspects are still detained.

President Barack Obama has said he wants the camp closed by January 2010.

Democratic leaders say they will reconsider providing the requested funds, once the White House has drawn up more detailed plans.

Community concerns

The funding issue appears to be a hiccup rather than a major setback for Mr Obama, says the BBC’s James Coomarasamy in Washington.

The closure deadline was set in Mr Obama’s first week of office, but since then growing numbers of the president’s own party have become concerned about the release of terrorist suspects into their constituencies.

Most democrats support his commitment to close Guantanamo Bay, but realise that agreeing to fund an ill-prepared process would provide fodder for the Republican opposition.

This is not the first time that the president has got into a politically difficult situation trying to strike a balance between national security and fulfilling his campaign commitments, adds our correspondent.

He revived military trials for some Guantanamo Bay detainees, having previously denounced the Bush-era judicial system.

Mr Obama halted them as one of his first acts on taking office, saying the US was entering a new era of respecting human rights.

Introducing new safeguards for detainees, he said he had supported their use as one avenue to try detainees, and in 2006 had voted in favour of them.

He said he had opposed the tribunals used by George W Bush’s administration because they had failed to establish a legitimate legal framework and undermined swift and certain justice.

Under extra safeguards for detainees, there will be:

* a ban on evidence obtained by harsh interrogation
* restrictions on hearsay evidence
* more leeway for detainees to choose their own lawyers

Original Link.

Biblical Hebrew Software – from the Jerusalem Gift Shop

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Weekly I highlight items being offered by the Jerusalem Gift Shop. Today it’s the Biblical Hebrew Software.

BIBLICAL HEBREW : The newest tool for learning, practicing, and perfecting biblical Hebrew Biblical Hebrew includes everything you need to master reading, writing, analyzing, and translating biblical Hebrew! In addition to 26 dynamic interactive lessons, the CD-ROM incorporates a wealth of fascinating information into each lesson to supplement your knowledge and deepen your understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures by bringing the Bible alive.
Study tools include:

* Comprehensive grammar tutorial
* Audio dictionary
* Interactive exercises and drills
* Much, much more!

Take a moment to see all of the other interesting items they stock.

The Jerusalem Gift Shop 234x60

Christian Gifts from Israel – The Jerusalem Gift Shop

Ahmadinejad: Iran Fired Missile with 2,000 Kilometer Range

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed that Iran has fired a new surface-tosurface missile that has a range of 2,000 kilometers.

In a campaign speech in his hometown in northern Iran on Wednesday, Ahmadinejad said that the Sajjil-2 missile “hit its target.” He said that the new model was propelled by solid fuel and was an improvement over the Shihab 3 missile.

Ahmadinejad’s announcement came only a day after a report issued by a group of US and Russian scientists and experts predicted that it would take Iran six to eight years to develop a missile with a nuclear warhead and a 2,000-kilometer range. The report said it’s “virtually impossible” to predict how long it would take the country to produce a modern intercontinental ballistic missile.

Without additional outside technology, the report said it would be “at least 10 to 15 years,” adding that there was no evidence Iran has decided to build an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The timetables could be accelerated if Iran were to receive substantial outside help, the report said.

According to the report Iran could produce a simple nuclear device in one to three years and a nuclear warhead in another five years after.

The EastWest Institute, a nonpartisan organization which focuses on global challenges, said it brought six US experts and six Russian experts together for the first time to produce a joint threat assessment on Iran’s nuclear and missile potential. It said key conclusions were presented in February to US National Security Advisor, Gen. James Jones, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

The experts’ consensus report, issued by the institute, notes that Iran denies having a nuclear weapons program but says the government “has not provided satisfactory answers to the questions raised about possible military dimensions” of the program. While Iran is continuing to enrich uranium, it said, “it is not clear whether it has taken the decision to produce nuclear weapons.”

By February 2009, the report said Iran had produced 1,010 kilograms of low-enriched uranium which would be enough for one bomb if it were converted to highly enriched uranium.

Original Link.

This post is brought to you by:

The Jerusalem Gift Shop 234x60

Christian Gifts from Israel – The Jerusalem Gift Shop

“The Blood Libels at National Geographic Magazine: The Planet-Friendly Purveyor of Anti-Christian, Anti-American, and Anti-Israeli Biases” by Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Menacing anti-Israel demonstrations in the street, rabid anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations, obsessive anti-Israel boycott resolutions among western academics, relentless anti-Israel headlines in the world media are “politics as usual,” involving the young and the fanatic. Most civilians barely notice it. They are worried about employment, health insurance, college tuition for their children—or about celebrities, whose decadent rise and fall distracts them from their own more ordinary miseries.

What worries me more are the movies and plays that subtly and inexorably shift the civilian point of view, movies which glamorize Arab tyrants and terrorists and demonize Israeli soldiers, “settlers” and politicians. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, ordinary people have come to believe that the Muslim world is peaceful, friendly, safe; that its “rough edges” are due to it’s having formerly been oppressed by Europe; that Islamist terrorism has probably been caused by the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan; that much of this is Israel’s fault—or rather, that much of this may now be solved if only America sacrifices Israel for the sake of world peace, including its own survival.

Take the pre-eminent, planet-friendly magazine, National Geographic. It boasts a readership of nearly eight million people. Courtesy of a gift subscription, it arrives faithfully. Sometimes I look at it, often I don’t. So many glossy photos, so little time. But this issue immediately caught my eye because the cover story is titled: “The Christian Exodus from the Holy Land.” What ho! I thought. So, the animal-friendly magazine “gets” it. My hopes raised, I turned to the article which is also titled “The Forgotten Faithful: Arab Christians.”

Here’s what the article does: It essentially blames the Christian Crusaders, American Christians, and Israel (!) for the persecution and disappearance of Arab Christians from the Middle East. I could not make this up. The lies, omissions, biases, both subtle and overt are mind-boggling. For example, the article, written by Don Belt, does not explain why the Crusades ever took place—namely, to protect the Christian Arabs from being slaughtered and forcibly converted by Muslims. In any event, Belt writes that “ironically, it was during the Crusades (1095-1291) that Arab Christians, slaughtered along with Muslims by the crusaders and caught in the cross fire between Islam and the Christian West, began a long, steady retreat into the minority.”

Just a minute. How has Belt managed to bypass the Arab Muslim conquest of the Christian and Jewish Middle East? For example, according to the pre-eminent scholar, Bat Ye’or, (and cited in Andrew Bostom’s excellent The Legacy of Jihad),

“Abu Bakr organized the invasion of Syria (Syro-Palestine) which Mohammed had already envisioned…the whole Gaza region up to Casarea was sacked and devastated in the campaign of 634. Four thousand Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan peasants who defended their land were massacred. The villages of the Negev were pillaged by Amr b. al As…in his sermon on Christmas day, 634, the patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, lamented over the impossibility of going on pilgrimage to Bethelehem…Sophronius, in his sermon on the day of Epiphany 636, bewailed the destruction of the churches and monasteries, the sacked towns, the fields laid waste…thousands of people perished in 639, victims of the famine that resulted from these destructions. According to the Muslim chronicler Baladhuri (d.892 C.E.), 40,000 Jews lived in Caesarea alone at the Arab conquest, after which all trace of them is lost.”

Based on scholarly sources, Bostom carefully and comprehensively chronicles the systematic Arab Muslim pillaging of the entire Middle East which included their enslavement and murder of Christians and Jews. What Don Belt fails to note, even in passing, is that more than four centuries of such Arab Muslim persecution of Christians is precisely what led to the Christian Crusades.

Yes, ’tis true: some Caliphs were temporarily kind to their Dhimmi populations; the Egyptian ruler granted asylum to the great Jewish scholar and philosopher, Maimonides who was, however, in flight from Muslims in Spain. Maimonides became the ruler’s personal physician. The Turkish Sultan granted asylum to the fabulously wealthy, Donna Gracia HaNasi, who was, herself, in flight from Catholic persecution in Spain and Portugal. But mainly, Jews lived in enormous poverty and danger and were routinely murdered, jailed for ransom, and exiled, their goods confiscated. The largest untold refugee story of the Middle East is that of Arab Jews in flight from Muslim persecution.

Read the complete article here.