What the Bible says about light and seed

The True Light "In him, (the Lord Jesus) was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world,…the world didn’t recognize him." John 1:4,9.

The Good Seed and the Weeds “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seeds in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. Matthew 13:24,25.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Most Loathsome Lie about Israel

This is a WorldNetDaily printer-friendly version of the article which follows.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The most loathsome lie about Israel
Dennis Prager address charge that Middle East nation is an apartheid state.
By Dennis Prager

Next month, the U.N.-sponsored hate-Israel festival known as Durban III takes place. Under the heading "anti-racism," the great bulk of the conference, like Durban I and Durban II, consists of condemning Israel for racism and equating it to an apartheid state.
Of the world's many great lies, this is among the greatest.
How do we know it is a lie? Because when South Africa was an apartheid state, no one accused Israel of being one. Even the U.N. would have regarded the accusation as absurd.
Israel has nothing in common with an apartheid state, but few people know enough about
Israel – or about apartheid South Africa – to refute the slander. So let's respond.

First, what is an apartheid state? And does Israel fit that definition?
From 1948 to 1994, South Africa, the country that came up with this term, had an official policy that declared blacks second-class citizens in every aspect of that nation's life. Among many other prohibitions on the country's blacks, they could not vote; could not hold political office; were forced to reside in certain locations; could not marry whites; and couldn't even use the same public restrooms as whites.

Not one of those restrictions applies to Arabs living in Israel.
One and a half million Arabs live in Israel, constituting about 20 percent of that country's population. They have the same rights as all other Israeli citizens. They can vote, and they do. They can serve in the Israeli parliament, and they do. They can own property and businesses and work in professions alongside other Israelis, and they do. They can be judges, and they are. Here's one telling example: it was an Arab judge on Israel's Supreme Court who sentenced the former president of Israel – a Jew – to jail on a rape charge.

Some other examples of Arabs in Israeli life: Reda Mansour was the youngest ambassador in Israel's history, and is now consul general at Israel's Atlanta consulate; Walid Badir is an international soccer star on Israel's national team and captain of one of Tel Aviv's major teams; Rana Raslan is a former Miss Israel; Ishmael Khaldi was until recently the deputy consul of Israel in San Francisco; Khaled Abu Toameh is a major journalist with the Jerusalem Post; Ghaleb Majadele was until recently a minister in the Israeli Government. They are all Israeli Arabs. Not one is a Jew.

Arabs in Israel live freer lives than Arabs living anywhere in the Arab world. No Arab in any Arab country has the civil rights and personal liberty that Arabs in Israel enjoy.
Now, one might counter: "Yes, Palestinians who live inside Israel have all these rights, but what about the Palestinians who live in what are known as the occupied territories? Aren't they treated differently?"
Yes, of course they are – they are not citizens of Israel. They are governed by either the Palestinian Authority (Fatah) or by Hamas. The control Israel has over these people's lives is largely manifested when they want to enter Israel. Then they are subjected to long lines and strict searches, because Israel must weed out potential terrorists.
Otherwise, Israel has little control over the day-to-day life of Palestinians and was prepared to have no control in 2000 when it agreed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state to which it gave 97 percent of the land it had conquered in the 1967 War. The Palestinian response was to unleash an intifada of terror against Israeli civilians.
And what about the security wall that divides Israel and the West Bank? Is that an example of apartheid?
That this is even raised as an issue is remarkable. One might as well mention the security fence between the United States and Mexico as an example of apartheid. There is no difference between the American wall at its southern border and the Israeli wall on its eastern border. Both barriers have been built to keep unwanted people from entering the country.
Israel built its security wall to keep terrorists from entering Israel and murdering its citizens. What appears to bother those who work to delegitimize Israel by calling it an apartheid state is that the barrier has worked. The wall separating Israel from the West Bank has probably been the most successful terrorism-prevention program ever enacted.

So why, then, is Israel called an apartheid state?
Because by comparing the freest, most equitable country in the Middle East to the former South Africa, those who seek Israel's demise hope they can persuade uninformed people that Israel doesn't deserve to exist, just as apartheid South Africa didn't deserve to exist.
Yet, the people who know better than anyone else what a lie the apartheid accusation is are Israel's Arabs – which is why they prefer to live in the Jewish state than in any Arab state.
There are lies, and then there are loathsome lies. "Israel is an apartheid state" falls into the latter category. Its only aim is to hasten the extermination of Israel.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are All Our Sins Forgiven?

Are All Our Sins Forgiven? This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley

I’ve received a number of questions about a recent series of online articles disputing the idea that Jesus died for all our sins, past, present, and future on the cross. The articles make the claim that the Bible teaches no such thing. So let’s find out. Does the Bible teach that all the sins of our life were forgiven at the cross or doesn’t it?

Colossians 2:13-14 reads as follows, When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
The Greek word translated all in this passage is pas. It means each, every, any, all, the whole, all things, everything. This would seem to support the claim that all sins past present and future were forgiven at the cross. It also supports Paul’s statement that at the moment of belief the Holy Spirit was sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance .

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory (Ephes. 1:13-14).
Taken literally, this means the Holy spirit is the down payment that guarantees the redemption of the acquired possession (us). This guarantee went into effect when we first believed. (By the way, for those of you who only speak King James-ese, all translation interpretations on this site are from the Greek text that brought forth the King James Version.)

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Cor. 1:21-22).
This tells us that God has established us as His and has placed His seal upon us as well. A seal is meant to authenticate ownership, placing it beyond doubt. It’s similar to the brand a rancher places on his cattle. 1 Cor. 6:19 says we are no longer ours, we were bought with a price. The price was the life of His Son Jesus. The Holy Spirit is our guarantee that God, who acquired us, will also redeem us.

Hebrews 10:12-14 states that Jesus offered Himself as a once for all time sacrifice for sin that has made us perfect forever.
But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Once for all time means it applies from the beginning of the Age of Man to the end and continuously throughout. That includes the entire life of every believer. In offering Himself as our sacrifice for sin He has made perfect forever we who are being made Holy. This is an expansion of the writer’s claim in Hebrews 7:25 to the effect that because Jesus lives forever He is able to save us forever. (These verses prove that all interpretations of Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26-27 that are used to deny eternal security are incorrect on their face. The same author, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could not contradict himself so radically).

Notice the sacrifice made us perfect forever, even though we’re still in the process of being made Holy. That’s a job that won’t be finished until the rapture/resurrection.
Being made perfect forever is what Paul meant when he said, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17). The verbs here are in the past perfect tense. That means from God’s perspective this is all over and done. Paul said that by accepting the Lord’s death as payment for all our sins we’ve become as righteous as God is (2 Cor. 5:21).

These statements are all consistent. Individually and collectively they clearly show that all the sins of our life are forgiven from the moment we first believe. And there’s not a single verse in the New Testament that contradicts, modifies, or retracts these promises. After all, how could God guarantee our salvation from the moment of belief unless all the sins of our life were paid for and forgiven at the cross?

But We Still Sin!
So how can we reconcile this with the undeniable fact that we still sin? Remember, in His Sermon on the Mount Jesus explained that sin begins with a thought, whether action follows or not. Anger is as much a sin as murder, lust is as much a sin as adultery. He could also have said coveting is as much a sin as theft, and so on. The writer of Hebrews told us that continuing to work to earn or keep our salvation is equivalent to breaking the commandment to keep the Sabbath (Hebrews 4). And James said whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). It’s only by using the blood of Jesus to wash away all the sins of our life that God could make good on His promise to guarantee our inheritance. Here’s how He does it.

Because we’ve been born again, God chooses to see us as the perfect being we will be after the rapture /resurrection. He can do this because He’s outside of time. Remember, eternity is not just a lot of time. Eternity is the absence of time altogether and God inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15). Remember God telling Adam that in the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die? (Genesis 2:17) When Adam and Eve disobeyed, they didn’t die then and there. But although they lived for several hundred more years, they were changed from immortal to mortal on that day. Their eventual death became a certainty and God who is outside time saw it at the moment they sinned.

Becoming born again is the exact opposite. We didn’t actually become immortal on that day but our immortality was made certain, and from that time on God saw us as immortal beings. He inspired Paul to write, Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17). Although to us we’re still much the same, to God we became a new creation on the day we accepted the Lord’s death as payment for our sins. He now sees us as being as righteous as He is (2 Cor. 5:21). This righteousness comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:22).

Paul explained how God is able to do this in Romans 7:18-20. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
For a born again believer, God has separated the sin from the sinner. God sees our sins as a holdover from the old us and does not consider them to be part of the new us.

What Should Be Our Response To This?
Does this mean we’re free to sin all we want? Are the legalists correct in saying that if God didn’t threaten us with the loss of our salvation we would all become the worst kind of depraved sinners? Millions of born again believers whose lives are radically different stand as evidence to the contrary. We all still sin from time to time but the direction and focus of our lives is not the same as it once was, and we can testify to the fact that we’ve been changed. Although Paul said everything is permissible, he also said not everything is beneficial or constructive. Therefore we no longer seek our own good but the good of others (1 Cor. 10:23-24) in the hope of winning the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:14). Paul was not talking about his salvation, which he already had, but rewards he hoped to receive at the Bema Seat judgment (1 Cor. 3:10-15) after the rapture.

This is why the loss of our salvation is never threatened. Our belief in our eventual immortality matches what God has already seen for us, and in the meantime we strive to heed Paul’s advice to live up to what we have already attained (Phil 3:16). This is our spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1) in gratitude for what we’ve been freely and irrevocably given.

But what about those true believers who don’t respond with gratitude and who don’t seem to have changed, living pretty much the way they did before they were saved? Is the gift rescinded? The promise broken? The guarantee revoked? I haven’t found a single verse that threatens them in this way. How could there be when all the sins of their life are paid for, including the sin of ingratitude?
What I’ve found is that for the most part, these ungrateful souls live defeated lives here and forfeit rewards in the hereafter. These are the ones Paul said will still be saved but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Cor. 3:15).

Here on Earth they have union without fellowship, never experiencing any intimacy with God. As a result their Christian walk consists of movement without progress, battles without victories, and service without success. They’re on the right side of pardon but the wrong side of power, having justification without sanctification.
Jesus described them in the parable of the sower and the seed, saying they’re like the seed that fell among thorns. It germinates and grows but because it’s choked by the thorns, it never matures to bear fruit. Because these believers are too concerned with the ways of the world, they never mature as Christians and never produce anything of value to the Kingdom (Matt. 13:22). At the Bema Seat they’ll stand before the Lord with nothing to show for the incredible gift they were given because they will fave failed to implement the wonderful plan He had for their lives.

The New Testament is crammed with admonitions and encouragement to allow the Holy Spirit to change the focus of our lives from the things of this world to the things of the next one, from the things we can see, which are temporary, to the things we cannot, which are eternal (2 Cor. 4:18), to be made new in the attitudes of our mind (Ephesians 4:23) no longer conforming to the patterns of this world (Romans 12:2). In short, to live up to what we’ve already attained (Phil. 3:16).

Some believers who fail to heed these admonitions will find themselves having escaped judgment simply because on a single day in their otherwise unremarkable life they made a decision that changed everything. For some it will be the only smart decision they ever made, but they will have made it in faith, which is all that matters (Ephesians 2:8-9) because having made it, all the sins of their miserable existence were forgiven and they became a child of God (John 1:12-13), adopted into His forever family (Gal. 4:4-5).
When the time comes, those who failed to make that decision would gladly trade the riches of the world to change places with them. But as indescribably generous as the gift they received on that day is, it was only the first installment on the life they could have had. Whether out of ignorance or rebellion they turned down the rest, refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into it, until finally the still small voice within them could no longer be heard.

I sometimes wonder if the loss some will suffer at the Bema Seat (1 Cor. 3:15) will appear as endless warehouses of unclaimed blessing or if the tears the Lord wipes from their eyes will be tears of regret upon learning what they could have done through Him had they responded to the Holy Spirit’s prompting. Only time will tell. But at least, it will all be in the past, because Rev. 21:4 goes on to say that from then on there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things will have passed away. All their sins were forgiven from the day they first believed. Selah 08-27-11

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Rules Have Changed: Pentagon Prepares For Economic Warfare


The scene: the war games suite of the mightiest military power in the world.
The guests were assembled in the Warfare Analysis Laboratory, surrounded by uniformed officers from the highest levels of the Pentagon and a dizzying array of screens normally used to simulate nuclear world war.
The gentlemen were called to order and the games began.
"If you imagine the war room in Dr. Strangelove, you're not far off," says participant James Rickards.
Yet this was no traditional battle game, but rather the Pentagon's first economic war game, and the authorities are loath to talk about it.
Economic war? It sounds preposterous. Except it gets less so with every dollar of debt run up by the US.

Behind the scenes, the military are worried about the market. For who owns much of this debt? China, the US's most powerful rival and threat. And that makes America vulnerable to a new kind of bloodless but ruthless war.
Rickards is not a soldier but a banker. He was joined in the war game by dozens of his Wall Street colleagues, flown in from Manhattan to this bunker at the Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland for the two-day event in 2009, when the Pentagon started to get really alarmed.
The group was split into five teams: America, Russia, China, Pacific Rim, and a "grey team", representing shady outfits such as terrorist organisations. They were sent into "bunker rooms" and told to use financial or economic tools - currency, debt, stocks, gold - to bring their enemies to their knees. Everything was conducted via computer, and they could be as devious and ruthless as they liked. The bankers liked.
"These people would normally never come together. But there is nothing more fun than to take a Wall Street guy and tell him to be a bad guy," says Mr Rickards, a former senior executive who was involved in planning and executing the war game.

When the game was halted, the result left the military men quiet and sobered. Why did the bankers scare the soldiers? The answer lies in the way the world is now interconnected as never before.

Over the past few years, China has been buying up US government debt and is now its biggest holder. If China were to dump this debt, it would totally screw with the economy. China could, hypothetically, win any number of foreign policy objectives by making it impossible for you to pay your mortgage.

Paul Bracken is a professor and expert in private equity at the Yale School of Management who serves on government advisory committees at the US Department of Defence. He was one of the key players behind the 2009 economic war game, and the smaller versions that have been played out since.
"The atmosphere that day was one of surprise at the magnitude of the threat," he says.
"The Pentagon people were used to dealing in terms of military battles: how many ships, how many missiles. This opened up whole new strategies."

Of course, economic warfare is not new. God's plagues on the Egyptian pharaoh's crops, as reported in the Book of Exodus, were an early skirmish. Winston Churchill created a Ministry of Economic Warfare, to run as a "new instrument of war" against Hitler. Embargoes and sanctions have been targeted at dozens of countries, from South Africa to the former Soviet Union.
But this is different. The markets are now global, the holdings in each other's finances deep, and the technical ability to manipulate them instantaneous. In the 1970s the West feared that its enemies had their fingers on a nuclear button. The modern equivalent may be China's ability to press the button on US Treasury bills.

China is, Professor Bracken says, "the huge threat", but Russia, with its oil and gas, has shown no compunction in waging economic war on its neighbours, and could do so on a larger scale.
Another possibility is that major oil-producing countries could destabilise America by switching to euros instead of dollars as the currency in which oil is priced - so-called "petro-dollar warfare". Or a terrorist organisation might trigger a financial crash via some kind of shady hedge fund or computer attack.

What the economic war game showed Professor Bracken was that military and economic decision-making has to be more unified. Banks and bonds are now weapons, just as much as bombs. "That makes the military nervous, as they had always been in charge of operations. That's why they know they need to understand this," Professor Bracken says.

Mr Rickards says that, "If you're going to confront the US military, you would spend billions.But if you can do so just as effectively in financial space, and it would cost less, why not?"
Perhaps Britain felt a taste of this last year, with some stockmarket shocks that wiped millions off three British companies. BT lost pound stg. 969 million ($1.5 billion) on one afternoon in August, Next lost pound stg. 275m. Security services had to probe the possibility that it was not technical faults, as initially supposed, but a concerted attack by a nation state.
John Bassett, a fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, says the British government is just waking up to the new order.
"If those were deliberate attacks on the London stockmarket, it was highly unlikely to be a criminal gang, much more likely an economic rival," he says. "This is a ruthless competition for global economic supremacy, and the West isn't winning."

At the end of that Pentagon session, the 80-odd players returned from their bunkers and assessed the damage.
China won, without so much as reaching for a gun. And the soldiers looked at each other and wondered if it was still only a game.

Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching

Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

.Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching
August 22, 2011 | 2213 GMT
By George Friedman

In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a nation. Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances have given rise to a Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be unexceptional.

However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors are coping with their own internal issues. Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that replaced him. Add to this the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst of ongoing regional crises. It thus is a vote that could have significant consequences.

The Palestinian Divide
Let’s begin with the issue not of the right of a nation to have a state but of the nature of a Palestinian state under current circumstances. The Palestinians are split into two major factions. The first, Fatah, dominates the West Bank. Fatah derives its ideology from the older, secular Pan-Arab movement. Historically, Fatah saw the Palestinians as a state within the Arab nation. The second, Hamas, dominates Gaza. Unlike Fatah, it sees the Palestinians as forming part of a broader Islamist uprising, one in which Hamas is the dominant Islamist force of the Palestinian people.

The Pan-Arab rising is moribund. Where it once threatened the existence of Muslim states, like the Arab monarchies, it is now itself threatened. Mubarak, Syrian President Bashar al Assad and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi all represented the old Pan-Arab vision. A much better way to understand the “Arab Spring” is that it represented the decay of such regimes that were vibrant when they came to power in the late 1960s and early 1970s but have fallen into ideological meaninglessness. Fatah is part of this grouping, and while it still speaks for Palestinian nationalism as a secular movement, beyond that it is isolated from broader trends in the region. It is both at odds with rising religiosity and simultaneously mistrusted by the monarchies it tried to overthrow. Yet it controls the Palestinian proto-state, the Palestinian National Authority, and thus will be claiming a U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood. Hamas, on the other hand, is very much representative of current trends in the Islamic world and holds significant popular support, yet it is not clear that it holds a majority position in the Palestinian nation.

All nations have ideological divisions, but the Palestinians are divided over the fundamental question of the Palestinian nation’s identity. Fatah sees itself as part of a secular Arab world that is on the defensive. Hamas envisions the Palestinian nation as an Islamic state forming in the context of a region-wide Islamist rising. Neither is in a position to speak authoritatively for the Palestinian people, and the things that divide them cut to the heart of the nation. As important, each has a different view of its future relations with Israel. Fatah has accepted, in practice, the idea of Israel’s permanence as a state and the need of the Palestinians to accommodate themselves to the reality. Hamas has rejected it.

The U.N. decision raises the stakes in this debate within the Palestinian nation that could lead to intense conflict. As vicious as the battle between Hamas and Fatah has been, an uneasy truce has existed over recent years. Now, there could emerge an internationally legitimized state, and control of that state will matter more than ever before. Whoever controls the state defines what the Palestinians are, and it becomes increasingly difficult to suspend the argument for a temporary truce. Rather than settling anything, or putting Israel on the defensive, the vote will compel a Palestinian crisis.

Fatah has an advantage in any vote on Palestinian statehood: It enjoys far more international support than Hamas does. Europeans and Americans see it as friendly to their interests and less hostile to Israel. The Saudis and others may distrust Fatah from past conflicts, but in the end they fear radical Islamists and Iran and so require American support at a time when the Americans have tired of playing in what some Americans call the “sandbox.” However reluctantly, while aiding Hamas, the Saudis are more comfortable with Fatah. And of course, the embattled Arabist regimes, whatever tactical shifts there may have been, spring from the same soil as Fatah. While Fatah is the preferred Palestinian partner for many, Hamas can also use that reality to portray Fatah as colluding with Israel against the Palestinian people during a confrontation.

For its part, Hamas has the support of Islamists in the region, including Shiite Iranians, but that is an explosive mix to base a strategy on. Hamas must break its isolation if it is to counter the tired but real power of Fatah. Symbolic flotillas from Turkey are comforting, but Hamas needs an end to Egyptian hostility to Hamas more than anything.

Egypt’s Role and Fatah on the Defensive
Egypt is the power that geographically isolates Hamas through its treaty with Israel and with its still-functional blockade on Gaza. More than anyone, Hamas needs genuine regime change in Egypt. The new regime it needs is not a liberal democracy but one in which Islamist forces supportive of Hamas, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, come to power.

At the moment, that is not likely. Egypt’s military has retained a remarkable degree of control, its opposition groups are divided between secular and religious elements, and the religious elements are further divided among themselves — as well as penetrated by an Egyptian security apparatus that has made war on them for years. As it stands, Egypt is not likely to evolve in a direction favorable to Hamas. Therefore, Hamas needs to redefine the political situation in Egypt to convert a powerful enemy into a powerful friend.

Though it is not easy for a small movement to redefine a large nation, in this case, it could perhaps happen. There is a broad sense of unhappiness in Egypt over Egypt’s treaty with Israel, an issue that comes to the fore when Israel and the Palestinians are fighting. As in other Arab countries, passions surge in Egypt when the Palestinians are fighting the Israelis.

Under Mubarak, these passions were readily contained in Egypt. Now the Egyptian regime unquestionably is vulnerable, and pro-Palestinian feelings cut across most, if not all, opposition groups. It is a singular, unifying force that might suffice to break the military’s power, or at least to force the military to shift its Israeli policy.

Hamas in conflict with Israel as the United Nations votes for a Palestinian state also places Fatah on the political defensive among the Palestinians. Fatah cooperation with Israel while Gaza is at war would undermine Fatah, possibly pushing Fatah to align with Hamas. Having the U.N. vote take place while Gaza is at war, a vote possibly accompanied by General Assembly condemnation of Israel, could redefine the region.

Last week’s attack on the Eilat road should be understood in this context. Some are hypothesizing that new Islamist groups forming in the Sinai or Palestinian groups in Gaza operating outside Hamas’ control carried out the attack. But while such organizations might formally be separate from Hamas, I find it difficult to believe that Hamas, with an excellent intelligence service inside Gaza and among the Islamist groups in the Sinai, would not at least have known these groups’ broad intentions and would not have been in a position to stop them. Just as Fatah created Black September in the 1970s, a group that appeared separate from Fatah but was in fact covertly part of it, the strategy of creating new organizations to take the blame for conflicts is an old tactic both for the Palestinians and throughout the world.

Hamas’ ideal attack would offer it plausible deniability — allowing it to argue it did not even know an attack was imminent, much less carry it out — and trigger an Israeli attack on Gaza. Such a scenario casts Israel as the aggressor and Hamas as the victim, permitting Hamas to frame the war to maximum effect in Egypt and among the Palestinians, as well as in the wider Islamic world and in Europe.

Regional Implications and Israel’s Dilemma
The matter goes beyond Hamas. The Syrian regime is currently fighting for its life against its majority Sunni population. It has survived thus far, but it needs to redefine the conflict. The Iranians and Hezbollah are among those most concerned with the fall of the Syrian regime. Syria has been Iran’s one significant ally, one strategically positioned to enhance Iranian influence in the Levant. Its fall would be a strategic setback for Iran at a time when Tehran is looking to enhance its position with the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Iran, which sees the uprising as engineered by its enemies — the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — understandably wants al Assad to survive.

Meanwhile, the fall of Syria would leave Hezbollah — which is highly dependent on the current Syrian regime and is in large part an extension of Syrian policy in Lebanon — wholly dependent on Iran. And Iran without its Syrian ally is very far away from Hezbollah. Like Tehran, Hezbollah thus also wants al Assad to survive. Hezbollah joining Hamas in a confrontation with Israel would take the focus off the al Assad regime and portray his opponents as undermining resistance to Israel. Joining a war with Israel also would make it easier for Hezbollah to weather the fall of al Assad should his opponents prevail. It would help Hezbollah create a moral foundation for itself independent of Syria. Hezbollah’s ability to force a draw with Israel in 2006 constituted a victory for the radical Islamist group that increased its credibility dramatically.

The 2006 military confrontation was also a victory for Damascus, as it showed the Islamic world that Syria was the only nation-state supporting effective resistance to Israel. It also showed Israel and the United States that Syria alone could control Hezbollah and that forcing Syria out of Lebanon was a strategic error on the part of Israel and the United States.

Faced with this dynamic, it will be difficult for Fatah to maintain its relationship with Israel. Indeed, Fatah could be forced to initiate an intifada, something it would greatly prefer to avoid, as this would undermine what economic development the West Bank has experienced.

Israel therefore conceivably could face conflict in Gaza, a conflict along the Lebanese border and a rising in the West Bank, something it clearly knows. In a rare move, Israel announced plans to call up reserves in September. Though preannouncements of such things are not common, Israel wants to signal resolution.

Israel has two strategies in the face of the potential storm. One is a devastating attack on Gaza followed by rotating forces to the north to deal with Hezbollah and intense suppression of an intifada. Dealing with Gaza fast and hard is the key if the intention is to abort the evolution I laid out. But the problem here is that the three-front scenario I laid out is simply a possibility; there is no certainty here. If Israel initiates conflict in Gaza and fails, it risks making a possibility into a certainty — and Israel has not had many stunning victories for several decades. It could also create a crisis for Egypt’s military rulers, not something the Israelis want.

Israel also simply could absorb the attacks from Hamas to make Israel appear the victim. But seeking sympathy is not likely to work given how Palestinians have managed to shape global opinion. Moreover, we would expect Hamas to repeat its attacks to the point that Israel no longer could decline combat.

War thus benefits Hamas (even if Hamas maintains plausible deniability by having others commit the attacks), a war Hezbollah has good reason to enter at such a stage and that Fatah does not want but could be forced into. Such a war could shift the Egyptian dynamic significantly to Hamas’ advantage, while Iran would certainly want al-Assad to be able to say to Syrians that a war with Israel is no time for a civil war in Syria. Israel would thus find itself fighting three battles simultaneously. The only way to do that is to be intensely aggressive, making moderation strategically difficult.

Israel responded modestly compared to the past after the Eilat incident, mounting only limited attacks on Gaza against mostly members of the Palestinian Resistance Committees, an umbrella group known to have links with Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas has made clear that its de facto truce with Israel was no longer assured. The issue now is what Hamas is prepared to do and whether Hamas supporters, Saudi Arabia in particular, can force them to control anti-Israeli activities in the region. The Saudis want al Assad to fall, and they do not want a radical regime in Egypt. Above all, they do not want Iran’s hand strengthened. But it is never clear how much influence the Saudis or Egyptians have over Hamas. For Hamas, this is emerging as the perfect moment, and it is hard to believe that even the Saudis can restrain them. As for the Israelis, what will happen depends on what others decide — which is the fundamental strategic problem that Israel has.

Read more: Israeli-Arab Crisis Approaching | STRATFOR

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Story I’ve Never Told By Gary Stearman

The Story I’ve Never Told
By Gary Stearman on August 11, 2011

The following is a story that I’ve never publicly related. Except for a handful of people I’ve told over the last four decades, it has been my secret. Nevertheless, it is a true story that played a large role in the development of my thinking. Ultimately, it caused me to come to a deep belief in the absolute veracity of Scripture. As I relate the experience, I’m delivering a personal testimony, accompanied by a deep desire to sound a warning and to issue a challenge to Christians everywhere.

As a Bible-believing Christian, I hold to the conviction that the Tribulation period lies in our near future. According to prophecy, this time will be heralded by the release of dark spiritual forces, posing as saviors of planet Earth. Soon, the restraining effect of God’s Spirit will be lifted from this planet and hell, itself, will be released to torment mankind.

When the Age of the Church comes to an end, these forces will convince many that they are presenting the super-scientific solution to man’s problems. Instead, they will enthrall a gullible mankind into bondage and spiritual deceit. “Aliens from outer space,” is their camouflage in our present age.

Their current message to mankind is, “Let us help you overcome your warlike, polluting ways, and build a bridge to future peace.” That message is the oldest lie on earth, spawned by their chief scientist/sociologist, Satan. As long as we remain here, Christians must endeavor to expose these dark spirits for what they really are.

Now to the Story
As part of an aviation-oriented family, I was literally raised around airplanes from my earliest childhood. I was an airport brat when my father managed an airport. I determined to get my pilot’s license at the earliest possible date … which I did as a teenager. I’m telling you this just to illustrate that flying has always been a big part of my life.

Stearman Aviation was known for having produced aircraft from the late 1920s through the 1940s, ending with the famous Model 75 Kaydet, which was the basic trainer for most of the pilots in World War Two. Over 8,500 of them were built, of which about 3,500 remain to this day. My father, uncles and cousins all felt the push toward flying and aeronautical engineering. So did I, until in the midst of my college years, I discovered that I was more interested in writing than engineering.

After graduation, with degrees in English and Psychology, as well as minors in descriptive linguistics, radio and television writing and literary analysis, I went to work, first for Beech Aircraft Corporation in commercial publications, then for Cessna Aircraft Corporation in the Merchandising and Marketing division. At both enterprises, my job was to write corporate publications and sales materials.

One of my tasks was to supply Cessna dealers across the United States with point-of-sale materials, such as brochures, product information, banners, posters, and films. This would include everything the local aircraft dealer would need to make a sale. After producing these products, we would personally deliver them by air in time for company representatives to put on sales meetings that introduced the new models.

It was midsummer in the late 1960s in Wichita, Kansas, and I prepared to take off from the delivery center airfield at Cessna Aircraft to make such a routine trip. On a Saturday afternoon, several of us in the Merchandising Division had spent time loading about a thousand pounds of displays into a brand-new Cessna 207 (rigged for cargo) preparatory to delivering it to a Texas dealer.

The next day – Sunday morning – I departed for my first stop, Love Field in Dallas, Texas, about 330 miles south. The trip took a normal and uneventful two hours. I arrived at the Cessna dealership late in the morning, where the dealer and I unloaded about half the materials I had brought for the meetings. We discussed his upcoming meeting over lunch. Then, a little after noon, I departed Love Field and headed west toward Lubbock, Texas, where I was to meet another Cessna dealer and unload the other half of the supplies for him. This leg of my flight, I thought, would be as ordinary as the first.

Climbing to a cruise altitude of 6,500 feet, and leveling off, I relaxed, expecting a 300-mile trip of about an hour and forty-five minutes. Routinely monitoring my nav-com and right on schedule, I was (as always) enjoying my flight. The air was smooth and cool. Then, without warning, a low-voltage warning flashed on my instrument panel!

My first reaction was simple annoyance: This had started as a perfect flight, but now I had to manage a failure. I was somewhat disgusted; this was after all, a brand-new airplane. I noted that the electrical system voltage was steadily dropping and after trying every alternative and discovering that there was no cure, I took one last reading on my heading and position, then shut down the entire electrical system. On an airplane, you can do that, because the engine has its own separate ignition system.

I believed that by doing this, I could save battery power till I got to Lubbock, then turn it back on in time to call the tower and make my landing. Again, I settled down, expecting the remaining hour to be uneventful. How wrong I was!

At this point, I would remind you that all electrical power was shut down, including of course, the radios. Yet, at that moment, I heard a crisp, clear voice that sounded just like a tour guide. It said, “If you look to your left, you’ll see a UFO.” My instant reaction was: “Now, that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. I’m not gonna look to my left!”

And I didn’t. Facing forward, I set my jaw and determined to continue as before.

But then it hit me: Although the radios were off, I had heard a clear voice. It was then that I decided for sure I was not going to look to my left!

Then, for the second time, loudly and clearly, the voice said (and I really couldn’t tell where it was coming from ), “If you look to your left, you’ll see a UFO.” Its intonation sounded just like a tour guide, and I laughed out loud. Then, curiosity finally got the best of me and I couldn’t stop myself from looking to my left.

And there, slightly below my altitude, and a mile or two away, was a bright light. I watched it for a good while. It was matching my speed and direction. As we continued for a few minutes, it appeared to be slowly drawing closer to me. It occurred to me that if we were both homing in on Lubbock radio, we would be on converging courses. I then decided that this thing that I thought was a “UFO” was really an Air Force airplane (a Cessna T-41), which I knew they were using for basic training at Lubbock. This was no UFO after all … it was a silver-winged T-41, gleaming in the sunlight. Mystery solved!

We flew on together for a few minutes more, still on merging courses, drawing ever closer to each other. It looked like we’d get to Lubbock at about the same time. Then, something startling happened. We both flew under a high, solid cloud deck that was a few thousand feet above us. Now, at virtually the same moment, we had both flown into shadow. But amazingly, the light that came from this mystery aircraft was as bright as it had been in the sun. It was generating its own light! It was brilliant! Suddenly, I believed the voice I’d heard fifteen minutes ago. It was a UFO!

Now, the moment I had this thought, the bright ship reacted by flying quickly sideways toward me, covering about a mile in less than two seconds! What had earlier registered in my mind as a T-41 was now a circular aluminum craft … at least it looked like polished aluminum! It was about a hundred feet in diameter and maybe fifteen feet thick. It was shaped like an upside-down Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup … even to the detail of being corrugated around the outside, though its corrugations weren’t as deep as those on the traditional peanut butter cup. As it approached, I had seen its top because it was a little below me. It had a gleaming center spot and bright radial lines that went like pie slices to its edge.

Its corrugations were spaced about three feet apart. And here it was, flying with me in close formation about seventy-five feet off my left wing. Then, as unbelievable as it may sound, I felt something like waves of energy coming off this thing. I felt like I was being “probed” or “scanned” … that it literally knew what I was thinking! And I wasn’t at all bothered by this. Quite the opposite, I felt an elation I’ve never experienced, either before or since.

I felt as though something terrifically good and beneficial was happening to me, something on the order of a rescue. Remember, I had entered into this situation with an electrical emergency.

I was magnetically drawn to this beautiful machine … if one can call it a machine. For several minutes, we flew along together. But as I looked, I wanted to get closer to it, to see how it was built. So I nudged the controls, causing my plane to slip stealthily closer to this thing … seventy feet … sixty-five feet … sixty feet … and I felt a magnificent connection with the giant ship … as though it was concerned about my condition. I perceived it as a gracious benefactor, though at the moment, I didn’t connect its actions with my electrical failure.

Fifty-five feet … fifty feet … As I slowly drew closer and closer, I was looking for clues as to how it was built. Did it have rivets or seams? I could see none. It looked like one solid piece of material. Forty-five feet … and then I felt this thing alarmed by my intentions. It didn’t want me to get too close.

In an instant, and with blinding speed, it zoomed back to its original position, about a mile off my left wingtip. It astonished me by banking to the right in order to turn left … exactly the opposite of the way an airplane flies. Now, in the distance, it still gleamed with a luminous silver light, and once again, flew along with me as we both headed for Lubbock, which was now less than twenty miles away! It seemed that we had covered what should have been an hour’s flight in about ten minutes!

And here, the time had arrived to see whether my earlier strategy had worked. I reactivated the electrical system, and yes, there was enough battery power left to call Lubbock tower, and to deploy the flaps for a landing, all of which turned out to be routine. Rolling southward, I slowed and departed the runway in a left turn and taxied up to the Cessna dealership.

And through my windshield, looking back toward the east, about ten miles away, was the ship, still hovering in the distance, absolutely still. After shutdown, I walked into the dealership in something of a daze, where I met the dealer and mumbled something about having seen a UFO on my way.

There was nothing subtle about his reply: “I don’t believe in those things!” I quietly resolved that I would never mention this to anyone else. Furthermore, he was angry: “You were supposed to be here earlier! What happened?” I told him about the electrical failure and it somewhat calmed him down. It didn’t occur to me until years later that I had left Dallas just after noon on a trip that should have taken less than two hours. Now, it was after six o’clock … perhaps closer to seven. This man had waited on me all afternoon … on a Sunday! But he was sympathetic after he heard about my emergency.

Another thing didn’t register with me until years later: I had refueled in Dallas, giving me enough fuel for four or five hours of flying time at the very most. I had landed over six hours later, and still had half my fuel left! But I just didn’t think about it; it didn’t cross my mind that there was anything strange about this.

I had intended to fly back to Wichita that evening after dropping off the rest of the load. But now, the airplane was in the shop with electrical problems, and I was forced to stay overnight.

The next morning … bright and early … the dealer picked me up and we headed for the airport to see what they had found wrong with my aircraft. Needless to say, I was quite anxious to fix the problem and head back home to Wichita and the factory. The shop foreman approached us as we entered. He was in an excited state as he almost shouted, “You ain’t gonna believe what we found!”

And he proceeded to show us the brand new V-belt that had fallen off the alternator drive and ended up in the bottom of the cowling. There was not a mark on it. It was factory new. And the pulleys from which it had escaped were still tensioned and safety wired. It was impossible for the belt to have fallen off in this way. Five men, including an FAA inspector, stood around marveling at the sight. At the very least, the belt should have been scarred. Most likely it would have broken. But it was pristine, and what’s more, they had to loosen the fittings to replace it. It couldn’t have fallen off the engine.

Of course, my mind was racing in a different direction: What had really happened? Why had the flying disc come alongside me at a critical moment? Had “they” actually caused that critical moment? Of course, I didn’t utter a word about a UFO to any of those present on that Monday morning. I would have been laughed out of the hangar!

And so, after re-installing the drive belt, test-running the engine and discovering a healthy system voltage, it was pronounced airworthy. I took off and headed for Wichita.

A little over two hours later, I landed, went back to the office and essentially kept my mouth closed … to this day. Over the last 42 years, I’ve told maybe four or five people about the incident … more or less swearing them to secrecy in the process.

I have many questions. Was the UFO good or evil? Was it from outer space or inner space; perhaps another dimension? Was it angelic or demonic? Did it cause the failure of my electrical system, or did something else cause the calamity, and the UFO came to my aid? One thing is certain: I felt that the UFO had good intentions; contact with it had been both exhilarating and positive. I was disappointed when it stayed behind as I went on to land.

I must tell you that at that time, I had not yet given my life to Christ. And I was more aware than most people of the entire UFO phenomenon. This encounter, of course, had brought me to an entirely new level of perception. It opened my mind to the absolute reality of beings who have what appears to be a technology that’s eons ahead of ours.

Here, it is important to mention that from my early childhood years, I had heard adults – family and close relatives – discuss the reality of UFOs. They were all totally convinced of their reality. In fact, two of my closest relatives were affiliated with the development of military aircraft, and later, with the establishment of our Intercontinental Ballistic Missile system. One of them, charged with developing protective systems that prevented false alarms, once casually mentioned that his major problem had been alarms tripped by passing UFOs. Another had seen a government-issued 16-millimeter film of a crashed UFO, which had been presented to them as a craft from outer space.

I, myself, had been employed in the building of test equipment for a wind tunnel, where I worked with two military officers who both had close encounters with UFOs.

From many sources, I had learned of the military’s intense preoccupation with what they termed “exterrestrial technology.” It was rumored that from the 1948 Roswell crash and the years immediately following it, much technical knowledge was obtained by “trade agreements” with the little aliens and their overlords. Since that time, a veritable flood of books and articles have documented exactly that.

As the narrative goes, government leaders agreed to let these “spacemen” operate within our atmosphere, in return for scientific and industrial advances. Many researchers have related that the transistor, developed by Bell Labs in the 1950s, was said to have come from such a deal, that it began as “UFO technology.” I hardly need remind you how radically our society has been changed by the introduction of solid-state electronics.

Not long after the personal encounter described above, I married the woman to whom I remain married to this day. She had been raised a Christian; I was not to become one until about a couple of years later. I began to read the Bible voraciously. It was the first book I’d ever found that explained the mysterious things that happen on this planet, as having to do with God, Creation and Redemption.

Because of my own encounter, I sought biblical answers that could explain what I had seen. I learned of God’s angels in their chariots of fire that flew in the realms just beyond the reach of man’s vision.

And I learned of the, “… principalities and powers in heavenly places …” mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 3:10. They are good as well as evil: The dark forces answer to their master, Satan, called in Ephesians 2:2, “… the prince of the power of the air.”

Like Job, I can say, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth” (Job 19:25). Without a shadow of a doubt, Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

In my own personal case, however, many questions remain. I continue to believe that I was rescued; I would like to believe that the beautiful ship that came alongside me was on a mission to save me from a possible crash.

But I don’t exclude the possibility that the ship was demonic, representing a mission far beyond my ability to understand. I just can’t say. I do know, however, that the Spirit of the Lord spoke clearly to me in the period that followed.

Afterward, I came, not only to saving faith in Christ, but to a consciousness that we are living in the last days, said by our Lord to resemble the days when fallen angels began to traffic among men. For eons, there has been a heavenly battle raging. Good and evil angels defend territories and causes that are far beyond our perception. Occasionally, they penetrate the dimensional barriers and for a moment, we see them.

The reality of these beings is beyond question to me. And since I am safe in Christ, I never worry that they might harm me. In the Spirit of the Lord, we are on the winning side of the battle:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38, 39).

What the Bible Says About UFOs

What the Bible Says About UFOs from Gary Stearman on Vimeo.

Gary and Bob Discuss the August issue of the Prophecy in the News Magazine. Focusing on Gary's story of his very own UFO encounter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011



By JESSICA HOPPER (@jesshop23) Aug. 23, 2011

A 5.9 magnitude earthquake jolted the East Coast, rattling people from Martha's Vineyard to Washington, D.C. to North Carolina, prompting the evacuation of Congressional buildings and the taking of two nuclear reactors offline.

The earthquake sent people pouring out of office buildings, hospitals, the Pentagon and the State Department. The pillars of the capital in Washington, D.C. shook. Alarms sounded in the FBI and Department of Justice buildings, and some flooding was reported on an upper floor of the Pentagon as a result of the quake. Parks and sidewalks in Washington were packed with people who fled their buildings.

The quake was felt as far north as New Hampshire.
The epicenter of the quake was near Mineral, Va., 35 miles from Richmond, Va., and 85 miles from the nation's capital. The quake was 3.7 miles deep. The epicenter is very close to two Dominion Power nuclear power plants.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoOffice workers gather on the sidewalk in... View Full Size J. Scott Applewhite/AP PhotoOffice workers gather on the sidewalk in downtown Washington, Aug. 23, 2011, moments after a 5.9 magnitude tremor shook the nation's capitol.
The East Coast gets earthquakes from time to time, but rarely of a magnitude to make skyscrapers sway.
A woman who works at Mineral Barber Shop in Mineral, Va. said that the inside of her shop is a mess but there doesn't appear to be any major damage outside the town square.

People in the New York Times building on 42nd street in Manhattan said they felt the entire building shift, and watched office furniture move. As the tall buildings in New York swayed, people ran out into the street.
The New York City Criminal Court in lower Manhattan was also evacuated.

In Baltimore, Maryland, artist Lisa Lewenz was working in her basement studio when she began to feel movement under her feet.
"Everything started trembling, with a big boom sound coming up from the ground. I've lived in LA long enough to know this drill, so rushed upstairs, and found the glassware still shuttering for about a minute. Couldn't get through by the phone to friends, and there was no news online, so I started worrying my house was collapsing," Lewenz said.

A man eating lunch in Charlottesville, Va., described his house tipping and plates shaking as he ate lunch.
In Washington, D.C., a woman serving jury duty said saw dust fall from surrounding buildings.
Reports of cell service outages have been reported.

ABC News' Jane Allen contributed to this report.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Way Of Cain

The Way Of Cain

This Week’s Feature Article by Jack Kelley

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:2-7)
From the Scriptures it appears that Cain knew how to bring an acceptable offering to the Lord. This is one of the clues that leads me to believe the Lord introduced a form of what would become the Levitical System right after the fall. There had to be a way for His earliest children to set aside their sins until the Redeemer He had promised to send (Gen. 3:15) came to solve the sin problem permanently. But although he knew what was right, Cain hadn’t done it and the Lord warned him that if he didn’t change there would be serious consequences. He didn’t and there were.

One of the tools used by theologians to help understand the Lord’s Word is called “The Principle Of First Mention”. It holds that the first time an important matter is mentioned in the Bible, the context in which it appears often contains information vital to our understanding of His Word in general, not just to the specific instance. The lesson from Genesis 4 is if we want to accepted by God, we should do the right thing. In the Old Testament doing the right thing was bringing the prescribed offering for sin. In the New, it’s believing in the one He sent (John 6:28-29).

Cain’s experience shows us that the Lord doesn’t condemn us for failing to do what is right without first teaching us what is right. It bears repeating that Cain knew what was right, but didn’t do it. Therefore he was acting with volition, consciously choosing a different way than the Lord had shown him.

I don’t think this is something that’s unique to Cain. There are several specific New Testament references to people who know what is right but don’t do it. I’m not talking about the sins we all commit, where we purposely do something that we know is displeasing to God. I’m talking about major disobedience that carries huge consequences. Jude called this following the Way of Cain. (Jude 1:11) In this study we’ll look at some folks who knew what was right but followed the way of Cain, and show that the consequences of their behavior has affected all of society.

Knowing What’s Right Vs. Doing What’s Right
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. (Romans 1:18-19).
This passage in Romans is not about people who never heard the truth about God and in ignorance came up with some alternate explanation for who we are and how we got here. This is about men who knew the truth and suppressed it. They knew what was right because God made it plain to them. But they not only didn’t do what was right, they tried to hide it so that others wouldn’t discover it. They compounded the Way of Cain and ruined our world.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1:20-23)
God has made His presence known to man, and eliminated all our excuses. These men knew God but rejected Him, and when they did four things began to happen, all of them bad.

First, their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. That means they lost the ability to reason where the things of God are concerned. Remember Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.” And in 1 Cor. 1:14 Paul wrote, The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. A foolish person lacks the ability to reason and relies on wishful thinking. And second, they stopped worshiping the Creator in favor of the Creation.

These men held themselves out to be wise, learned men, who had come up with a superior alternative to what they call the fables and fiction of the Bible. Some called themselves scientists, although by definition science requires observation, and they’ve never observed their theory in action. What they were able to observe is that left alone, all things proceed from order into chaos, or devolve, and yet their theory requires things to go the opposite direction, evolving from chaos into order, without any outside assistance. Their’s is a natural law that violates natural law.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:24-25)

Third and fourth, many who accepted this alternative to Creation became sexually immoral and materialistic. If this had only happened to a few, we could have seen how different from the rest of us they had become. But since their theory effectively does away with God, it caught on among others who were seeking an alternative to Him, and after a relatively short period of time it worked its way into the educational systems of the world in the guise of science. In order to suppress the truth, scientists and educators made sure it was the only thing taught in our schools, and after a few generations no one even thought to question it. Even many of the leading theologians went along, seeing their theory as being more sophisticated and more intellectually appealing than God’s Word. Soon this theory that’s never been observed or proven became as fact.

Seeking to end their troublesome conflict with God’s Word for good, they got Him kicked out of the educational system altogether. As they did, the standard of morality began to decline, and before long the age of materialism was upon us followed by the sexual revolution. Then pornography went public and became an accepted part of our entertainment. Soon, half of all marriages were ending in divorce. 50 million unborn children were put to death for the sake of convenience. (Anyone can look at an ultrasound and know intuitively that it depicts a human life. It took experts who know what is right but refuse to do it to convince us otherwise.) Children who were brought into the world were abandoned to the very schools that had played a major role in causing the problem.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. (Romans 1:26-27)
When these men saw evidence of the cause and effect relationship that Paul had warned them about, they worked to suppress it as well. They called these judgments from God alternative lifestyles, as proper as any other choice, and began teaching our children to accept and even celebrate them. They passed laws against thinking of them in any other way, in some instances making it a crime for us to remind them of God’s word.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)

It’ll All Be Over Soon
As a society we’ve acquired such depraved minds that we don’t even see what’s happening to us. We should know that we’re on the brink of destruction, but we keep getting worse and worse, applauding behavior that we would have condemned in disgust only a few years ago.

Since the first judgments haven’t turned mankind back to God, a final, much more serious one is coming. This one is so bad that the Lord will remove His Church from out of the midst of it to protect us from it’s effect. (1 Thes. 1:9-10) Jesus said that it would be so bad that not one living soul would survive it unless he puts an end to it at the appointed time. (Matt. 24:22)
Already we can see signs of it building among us. But as bad as things are now, this is nothing compared to the way the world will soon be. In Paul’s day the Greek Empire was in the last days of it’s decline, gasping under the weight of the same kind of decay that’s in evidence everywhere in our world today. And Paul already saw it coming upon the Roman Empire, although the worst of it was still several hundred years away at the time. In each of these world Empires people’s hearts had become so hardened and their minds so depraved that they couldn’t even figure out what was happening to them. It’s the same today, except it’s coming upon the world much more quickly this time. Having failed to learn from its mistakes, the world of our time is doomed to repeat them.

And contrary to the prevailing view in the Charismatic and Emerging Church movements, the Bible mentions no great revival at the end of the age to right all our wrongs, heal all our diseases, and clean up our mess in time to hand it over to the Messiah, all bright and shiny. The reason people from those movements don’t want you studying Bible prophecy is that their version of the End Times, called Dominion Theology, can not be found there.

Contrary to what they preach, this is what God’s word tells us to expect. Jesus said that in the last days the believing Church would have little strength but would keep His word and not deny His name. He said He would come for us soon and to hold on until He does. (Rev. 3:8,11) On the other hand, He said, the apostate church would consider itself wealthy and in need of nothing, not realizing that they’re wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. All the while He stands knocking at their door trying to get in. Unable to do so, He will spew them out of His mouth. (Rev. 3:16,17,20).

None of this had to happen, of course. It all started when a few men who knew what was right decided not to do it. And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s hard to believe that all of our society’s sexual immorality, its materialism and greed, the decay of its educational system, its disregard for the value of human life, and its celebration of alternative lifestyles, all stem from its decision to ignore what men know is right but refuse to do. But that’s exactly what’s happened. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, worshiping and serving created things rather than our Creator. It’s the Way of Cain. Selah (08-20-11)
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