When does our salvation actually take place?

What’s the Big Deal About Israel?

There is no doubt about the fact that Biblical prophecy clearly teaches Israel will be the straw that stirs the drink in the Last Days.

The big question is – why?

There was a time when Israel’s location on the main land route between Africa, Asia and Europe made it quite a prize.

But modern transportation advances have made Israel’s position on the globe less and less strategically important.

The main reason Israel has remained the focal point of world events is her passionate place in the hearts of the followers of the world’s three major monotheistic religions – Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

As far as the greatest prize available in the Middle East – energy reserves – Israel has seemed to be the odd man out.

It would seem that energy producing nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq or Kuwait would be far more enticing targets for a military power grab.

Practically speaking we could excuse people for asking, “What’s the big deal about Israel, anyway?”

That is, until this week.

https://i1.wp.com/oilandgaspress.com/wp/o_rig.jpg

The Jerusalem Post Internet Edition

Huge gas reserves discovered off Haifa

Jan. 18, 2009
Sharon Wrobel , THE JERUSALEM POST

A historic natural gas reservoir found offshore from Haifa is poised to meet Israel’s natural gas demand for about 15 years and reduce the country’s dependence on gas imports from Egypt and offshore from Gaza.

The discovery of the natural gas field 90 km. offshore from Haifa, known as Tamar, was made by a US-Israel consortium including the Delek Group, through its subsidiaries Delek Drilling and Avner Oil Exploration, Isramco Negev 2, Dor Gas Exploration and US oil operator Noble Energy Inc.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the Tamar field might contain over 88 billion cubic meters of gas.

“If the Tamar site opposite the Haifa coast succeeds in producing the significant quantities of natural gas predicted, we are talking about a revolution which will have an impact on the Israeli economy for the coming generations,” said Dan Halman, CEO of Halman-Aldubi Group. “The vast reservoir is poised to bring down electricity prices, reduce the country’s dependence on gas from foreign countries, in particular from Egypt, and thereby turn Israel from a gas importer into a gas exporter.”

Yoav Burgan, analyst at Leader Capital Markets, believes in the possibility of long-term deals resulting from the Tamar well which could generate a potential value of $15.5 billion. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1232265973374&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

This discovery brings into sharper focus a previously puzzling piece of the prophetic portrait of the Last Days invasion of Israel known as the War of Gog and Magog.

Ezekiel 38-39 predicts that a Russian lead coalition of nations that includes modern Iran will attempt to overwhelm Israel in a single lightning fast attack.

When the world gets wind of this massive invasion, a few nation states will raise an objection, couched in diplomatic terminology.

Thus says the Lord GOD: “On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan:

11 You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’—

12 to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land.

13 Sheba, Dedan, the merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions will say to you, ‘Have you come to take plunder? Have you gathered your army to take booty, to carry away silver and gold, to take away livestock and goods, to take great plunder?’”’ (Ezekiel 38:10-13)

This passage used to puzzle students of prophecy.

Sure,  Israel has great cultural and spiritual significance.

But these national powers from both the Saudi peninsula and Europe strongly suggest the kicker for this invasion was a source of wealth that made Israel too inviting a target to resist.

Could the successful development of the Tamar site, as well as similar future discoveries set the stage for this predicted military show down?

This much is clear -Israel will become a prize worth such a military gamble- a gamble this predicted invasion force will be willing to take.

The Bible also makes clear that this coming conflict will be won not through the resources and skill of the Israeli Defense Forces, but the direct supernatural intervention of the true and living God.

The stage for these prophetic events continues to be set.

Stay tuned.

The Rest of the Rest of the Story – Super Bowl Edition Part II

http://mrmittens.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/warner-gloves.jpg

No, I haven’t started stuttering in print.

But I wanted to pass along to you an interesting experience I had regarding yesterday’s post concerning Kurt Warner.

My dear old Dad used to frequently tell me, “Son, if something seems too good to be true, it’s because it is too good to be true.”

Sage advice, that.

In fact, it’s biblical.

These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. (Acts 17:11)

And generally speaking, when navigating in this fallen world we have to be careful.

There are all kinds of con artists who trade on our desire to believe the best about others.

There are also all kinds of sincere people whom we put up on pedestals, only to find out they are as flawed and faulty as we are.

But every now and then, there comes along a story that fits the “too good to be true” category for an unexpected reason – the real account is even better.

This was the case when I dug a little deeper into the internet missive on “Kurtis and Brenda” we related to you yesterday.

An indispensable aid in separating the contenders from the pretenders on inter-net content is available at Snopes.com.

Although the story we related seemed plausible enough, the fact checkers at Snopes gave it only a qualified yes.

Hoo Boy! Here we go.

Another great story melts in the light of day, right?

Wrong.

Snopes points out the real story of Kurt and Brenda Warner is far more inspiring than the inter-net chain letter version.

Along with a number of inaccuracies in the story of their courtship and the timing of Kurt’s conversion to Christ, the letter unfortunately mishandles the account of Brenda’s special needs child Zachary.

Zachary was born as a perfectly healthy infant, not a Downs Syndrome child.

When he was four months old, Zachary’s birth father accidentally dropped him. He suffered severe brain damage and both of his retinas were ruptured.

At the time of the incident few held out hope that Zachary would live, let alone sit up, walk or talk.

Zachary’s recovery has been long and difficult, but he now is able to walk and talk.

Still legally blind, he can now make out colors and shapes. No longer an exclusively special needs child he now attends half days in a regular high school classroom.

Kurt did adopt both of Brenda’s children, and they have since added five more of their own to the family.

As to what kind of dad Kurt has been to Zachary, consider what happened when Kurt lead the Rams to a Superbowl victory in 2ooo.

Zachary, then 10, presented his adoptive father with a hand made card – the inscription – written in child like scrawl –

“You’re as good a quarterback as you are a Dad.”

The moral of the story?

Yes, the inter-net account of the Warner’s life together is too good to be true.

But the real story of the hardships, joys, perseverance and the love of God that sustains this family is even better.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/Kurt_Warner_and_Amani_Toomer.jpg

The Rest of the Story – Super Bowl Edition

For my money the three most annoying things on the internet are:

E-mails from African princes in exile who promise a million dollar care and handling fee for a funds transfer.

Calls to return to faith, family and common sense values allegedly penned by drug addled Marxist celebrities.

And,  of course, keys to blessings and happiness that threaten curses and pestilence on those who won’t pass the cheerful missive along to 20 of their closest friends.

But every now and then, I will receive a message that really makes my day.

Not just because it is inspiring, but because it is true.

And so, with a hat tip to Hall of fame broadcaster Paul Harvey, I’d like to share with you a story that may change the way you view the Super Bowl coming up this Sunday.

It’s the story of Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check out girl.

In a supermarket, Kurtis the stock boy, was busily working when a new voice came over the loud speaker asking for a carry out at register 4. Kurtis was almost finished, and wanted to get some fresh air, and decided to answer the call. As he approached the check-out stand a distant smile caught his eye, the new check-out girl was beautiful. She was an older woman, maybe 26, and he was only 22 and he fell in love.

Later that day, after his shift was over, he waited by the punch clock to  find out her name. She came into the break room, smiled  softly at him, took her  card and punched out, then left.  He looked at her card, BRENDA.  He walked out only to see her start walking up the road.

Next day, he waited outside as she left the supermarket, and offered her a ride home. He looked harmless enough, and she accepted.  When he dropped her off, he asked if maybe he could see her again, outside of work.  She simply said it wasn’t possible. He pressed and she explained she had two children and she couldn’t afford a baby-sitter, so he offered to pay for the baby-sitter. Reluctantly, she accepted his offer for a date for the following Saturday.

That Saturday night he arrived at her door only to have her tell him that she was unable to go with him.  The baby-sitter had called and cancelled. To which Kurtis simply said, “Well, let’s take the kids with us.” She tried to explain that taking the children was not an option, but again not taking no for an answer, he pressed.  Finally Brenda, brought him inside to  meet her children.  She had an older daughter who was just as cute as a bug,  Kurtis thought, then Brenda brought out her son, in a wheelchair.

He was born a paraplegic with Down Syndrome. Kurtis asked Brenda, “I still don’t understand why the kids can’t come with us?”

Brenda was amazed. Most men would run away from a woman  with two kids, especially if one had disabilities – just like her first husband and father of her children had done.

Kurtis was not ordinary  – he had a different mindset. That evening Kurtis and Brenda loaded up the kids, went to dinner and the movies. When her son needed anything Kurtis would take care of him.  When he needed to use the restroom, he picked him up out of his wheelchair, took him and brought him back. The kids loved Kurtis.  At the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she was going to marry and spend the rest of her life with.  A year later, they were married and Kurtis adopted both of her children. Since then they have added two more kids.

Now this account would be remarkable in and of itself. But as they say, there is a rest of the story.


So what happened to Kurtis the stock boy and Brenda the check-out girl?  Well, Mr. & Mrs. Kurt Warner now live in Arizona , where he is currently employed as the quarterback of the National Football League Arizona Cardinals, who will be playing Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida on February 1, 2009.

And what was the motivation that allowed Kurt Warner to not only perserve through the challenges of a sure to be Hall of Fame football career and the even greater challenges of being a husband and father in a blended, special needs family?

“I believe that the Lord has a plan for each of us that’s better than anything we can imagine–even if that plan isn’t obvious to us at every stage. He prepared me for this over a long period of time–in lower-profile locker rooms and the grocery store and in Europe, through all the personal tragedies and in spite of the people who doubted me along the way,” Warner explained. “Whether I’m a Super Bowl Champion or a regular guy stocking groceries at the Hy-Vee, sharing my faith and glorifying Jesus is the central focus of my time on this earth. And the fact that I now have a podium, I believe, is no coincidence. I want to be a role model for Christ in everything that I do. Living my life for Him and showing people the beauty of that reality is my mission in life.”

“Before I could devote my life to Jesus and start living my life for Him, I had to go through a lot of personal struggles, including a period a few years ago where I got a little caught up in things that aren’t important–fame, money, lust….”

Warner suffered a series of disastrous setbacks in his career. He faced financial problems, family problems, even the sudden and tragic death of his wife’s parents. All the hurts and the heartbreak caused Kurt to take a good hard look at his life–and what was missing from it. “Growing up I’d always put my life on one side and my relationship with God on the other. I knew God was there, but I only called upon Him when I needed Him or felt compelled to thank Him.Eventually, I realized I needed to live every day for Him.”http://www.eadshome.com/KurtWarner.htm

So when you are watching the game on Sunday, realize there is more going on than just an amazingly hyped four hours of entertainment.

Some of these men on the field have won greater victories than anything represented by the Lombardi Trophy.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (I Corinthians 9:24-27)



A Revolution of the Heart

https://i0.wp.com/www.freedigitalphotos.net/image/s_chairman-mao.jpg

This last election season the spin masters discovered a word that resonated with the hearts of the American people – “Change”.

In fact, it seemed that both major party candidates were in an all out battle to prove that they were the “changiest” candidate of them all.

Being sold on the idea of change isn’t anything new.

“The New Deal”, “The Great Society”, “The Reagan Revolution” and the “Contact With America” were all variations on this same theme.

But although these initiatives promised much, when the sound and fury passed and the dust settled we ended up in much the same state as we were in before.

As the Who so eloquently put it,

“Here comes the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Looking for a political solution to the world’s problems inevitably ends up in disappointment.

Why?

As the great Russian writer Alexsander Solzhenitzen observed,

“You have changed nothing until you have changed the hearts of men.”

Governments can never change the hearts of men, but have you ever stopped to consider that the hearts of men can change governments?

Consider this shocking dispatch that moved on the web today.

Beijing in talks to reconcile church and state

A SECRET meeting between Chinese officials and leaders of the banned underground Protestant Church has marked the first significant step towards reconciliation in decades.

The discussions, which were held in an office in Beijing, were the first time members of the communist Government and followers of the outlawed “house churches” had sat down as negotiators rather than foes.

The timing was significant: this year is the 60th anniversary of communist power, and the Government is keen to ensure there are no disturbances to mar its celebrations.

The Year of the Ox began yesterday, and Beijing is anxious to usher in 12 months of stability, despite economic difficulties.

For three decades, China has allowed approved churches to operate within strict limits. Protestants are supposed to worship under the aegis of the official religious body, the Three-Self Patriotic Movement – standing for self-governing, self-teaching and self-supporting.

Catholics can worship in churches run by the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

Other Christian organisations are illegal.

In recent years the number of Christians has soared. Some officials privately estimate the total at up to 130million – outstripping the 74million members of the Communist Party. Many are Protestants and are affiliated with unofficial house churches.

Church leaders believe this is one reason why the State Council Development Research Centre – an official party think tank – called the two breakthrough meetings late last year. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24965831-2703,00.html

The story of the underground church in China is a fascinating one.

When Mao came to power in 1948 he immediately moved to eliminate Christian dominated towns and villages.

The thinking was that if these believers were scattered from each other they would soon lose their faith and identify with the Communist government.

Ironically, these scattered believers did the opposite. They began sharing their faith in their new surroundings. The explosion of conversions to Christianity in China soon followed.

When it is all said and done, Chairman Mao’s Communist party may go down as one of the most effective missionary sending organizations of all time.

And a movement that started in the hearts of people touched by the Spirit of God, is now shaking up the establishment in the halls of power in Beijing.

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If God calls you to preach, do not stoop along the way to become a king.”

It is one thing to identify what’s wrong with the world. It’s quite another to change it.

The only way this world will change is if the individual worlds of people are changed – one heart at a time.

The secret to realizing the change we all long for?

Sharing, one heart at a time this timeless truth –

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (II Corinthians 5:17)

When will the rapture take place?

Click here to view the video answer!

The Toughest Question On Roe v. Wade Day

https://i2.wp.com/www.orwelltoday.com/babyub.jpg

Have you ever had someone answer a question you asked with a question?

It’s probably not the best way to make friends and influence people.

In fact,  it’s that kind of approach that lead to Socrates being force fed a hemlock cocktail during Athens’ happy hour.

Why does this kind of response tend to irritate us so?

Probably because it makes us have to think.

And if most people really liked to think, how could we explain the continued existence of professional wrestling?

But I digress.

Interestingly, the question with a question approach to debate was a techinique that Jesus used to create teachable moments.

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this method of getting to the heart of the matter when I read an on line post that boasted of a question the author claimed “no pro-life person can answer” – “If abortion is murder, do you support prosecuting women who have abortions?”

At the risk of raising some Socratic ire, I would like to take Jesus’ approach and respond with a question that ushers  all others in this issue to the sidelines.

“When did your life begin?”

And yes, the emphasis in this question is on the personal pronoun “your”.

There is an inescapable answer.

Your life, as well as my life began at the moment of conception.

At that time, there were two undeniable facts about you.

First, you were not a thing or an it.

Scientifically, there is no debate that you as a fertilized egg weren’t an inanimate object. You were alive. You were a being.

Secondly, at the moment of your conception you weren’t just as likely to become a panda bear or a cane toad. You had the same genetic endowment you have now – the 48 pairs of chromosomes that made you human.

That means scientifically, inescapably you were a being that was human. At the moment of conception you were a human being.

The only difference between you and me and a fertilized egg is time and nurture.

Period.

To use the words fetus or embryo or even to be so crude as to say to an expectant mother “How’s the little tadpole today?” is usually a way to avoid this fact.

Merely proceeding along the path of development far enough to pass through a birth canal and survive on the outside doesn’t magically transform us from tissue blob to bundle of joy.

You were human all the way along.

Defenseless? Sure.

Helpless? Absolutely.

Unable to survive without outside help?

I know some twenty-year-olds who fit the same description.

To ask the question – should women who abort their children be prosecuted as murderers?-  ultimately obscures the real issue.

To conclude the pro-life position isn’t true because of how some people feel about those who have acted out their pro-abortion beliefs, doesn’t change the facts of life.

Yes even your life.

Which leads to another question.

If so called “pro-choice” people are so sure we are dealing with a mere mass of cells or a sub human clump of tissue, why do they so angrily oppose informed consent laws that show women an ultra sound of the baby whose life will be terminated?

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;[b]
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)