Persecution and the Planning and Zoning Department

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Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law?

In a nutshell, Murphy’s Law states that in this world whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

So reliable is this principle some scientists have even called this tendency “The Fourth Law of Thermodynamics”.

We see it in action all the time.

Like the indisputable fact that the lane of traffic you just pulled over into will immediately begin moving slower than all the others.

Or that your cell phone will drop at the most important part of a conversation.

Way back in the 1840’s, Murphy’s Law was celebrated in this poem:

I never had a slice of bread,
Particularly large and wide,
That did not fall upon the floor,
And always on the buttered side.

Two things my experience here on Planet Murphy has taught me to never say.

“At least it can’t get any worse!” and “We know that can’t happen here.”

Yes it can.

And inevitably it will.

The second of these tried and true applications of  Murphy’s Law has been stirring up quite a bit of controversy on the web today.

Couple: County Trying To Stop Home Bible Studies

SAN DIEGO — A local pastor and his wife claim they were interrogated by a San Diego County official, who then threatened them with escalating fines if they continued to hold Bible studies in their home, 10News reported.

Attorney Dean Broyles of The Western Center For Law & Policy was shocked with what happened to the pastor and his wife.

Broyles said, “The county asked, ‘Do you have a regular meeting in your home?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say amen?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you pray?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Do you say praise the Lord?’ ‘Yes.'”

The county employee notified the couple that the small Bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of County regulations, according to Broyles.

Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed “unlawful use of land” and told them to “stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit” — a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Excuse me, but when a government representative comes and declares a small gathering to study the Bible “an unlawful use of land”, aren’t we getting awfully close to the definition of institutional persecution?

When I first became a Christian in the 70’s, there were a number of movies that made the rounds portraying persecution of believers in some future form of America.

Although it made for some nice drama, I always felt like these scenarios were a little far fetched.

We have the First Amendment, right?

We have certain inalienable rights endowed by our Creator, right?

Free assembly.

Freedom of worship.

Yes, I’m sure I read that someplace – like the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

Apparently the P and Z department of San Diego County didn’t get that memo.

Not only can persecution happen here –

It just did.

It will be fascinating to see how this case plays out in a court of law.

Chances are, this will be revealed as the poorly thought through money raising scheme of some overzealous bureaucrat, or the vendetta of the guy down the street with the Darwin fish on the back of his vintage VW van.

But similar attempts to shut down home Bible studies have already happened in Seattle and  Colorado Springs.

Consider this incident that took place in Virginia.

A local resident made a barn on his property available for a group that held worship services.

The result?

“Garland Simmons recently received a Notice of Violation from Bedford County stating that his barn cannot be used for religious services. Simmons’ 900-acre piece of property apparently isn’t zoned for such meetings,” according to an article in WorldNetDaily.

Apparently his barn can be used for “barn dances” but not for religious services according to Liberty Counsel, who on behalf of the church, sent a demand letter to county officials stating the violation of Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the First Amendment.

A few questions here:

Why is it the local planning and zoning storm troopers always seem to target Christians?

Could you imagine what would happen if a municipality denied a group the right to meet to study the Koran in a home?

And where are the “I disagree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” pressure groups and publicity seeking attorneys in a situation like this?

Is their deafening silence in these cases an indication that they aren’t so much interested in defending rights as much as promoting and protecting a narrowly defined, politically correct agenda?

What these cases reveal is that slowly, incrementally the basic rights we take for granted in this country are eroding away.

And when the right to worship is something granted only to a carefully vetted, government approved, pressure group pleasing few, there will be a price to be paid for our love and loyalty to Jesus and His Word.

The question we have to ask ourselves is simple, practical and personal – Are we willing to pay that price?

Would we be willing to give to our churches and Christian causes if there was no tax break involved?

Would we be willing to pay unfair financial penalties to allow the Word of God to continue to be taught in our homes?

Would we be willing to be passed over for promotions, or even lose our employment positions rather than renounce our faith in Christ?

Would we be willing to endure painful rejection, even physical abuse rather than go with the flow of this world?

TS Elliott once suggested that the world would end “not with a bang, but a whimper.”

In the same way persecution may come to believers who live in this country not by a sweeping edict from Washington.

It may begin with something as innocuous as a local city council deciding they don’t want a bunch of cars parked in front of a house for a Thursday night Bible study.

When the apostles had their first taste of official persecution, they reacted in an amazing way.

..And when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)

People with that kind of faith aren’t likely to be defeated or discouraged by a planning and zoning commission.

And if our faith begins to cost us something, who knows?

We may just find ourselves becoming more serious about our faith!






The Prophecy of Joseph Biden?

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One of the most startling statements in last year’s presidential campaign was an eyebrow raising note of caution to voters inclined to elect a candidate with limited foreign policy experience.

“Mark my words. It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

Who issued this word of warning?

The RNC?

Rush Limbaugh?

Bill O’Reilly?

How about  “none of the above”.

These are the words of newly elected Vice President Joseph Biden.

And Biden didn’t stop there.

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning the Middle East and Russia as possibilities. “And he’s gonna need help. And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Well the events of the last few days have confirmed that Joe Biden was right on target.

North Korea has successfully detonated a Hiroshima level atomic bomb.

It has followed up with successful tests of  its developing missile technology.

It has declared the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War null and void.

And has labeled South Korea’s willingness to join a coalition of nations in an effort to halt smuggling of WMD technology “an act of war.”

If this doesn’t fit the description of Biden’s anticipated test of Barack Obama’s mettle, I’d hate to see the real deal.

So how has the Obama Administration responded to the crisis?

Gates to press for Far East unity on NKorea threat

WASHINGTON – The White House on Wednesday accused North Korea of “saber-rattling” for attention as the Pentagon began the delicate task of reassuring Asian allies of U.S. support without further provoking the communist government.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton both lobbed carefully worded verbal salvos at North Korea. At the same time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates headed to Singapore for long-planned meetings with Asian nation counterparts already jittery about America’s commitment to the region.

Threats won’t get North Korea the attention it craves,” Gibbs told reporters at the White House. “Their actions are continuing to further deepen their own isolation from the international community and from their rights and obligations that they themselves have agreed to live up to.”

Help me if I’m missing something here, but it seems our response to this avalanche of aggression by the regime of Kim Jong Il is to:

State the obvious – “You guys are sabre rattling!”

Be polite  – Nothing intimidates mad dictators like a “carefully worded salvo”.

Apply some amateur psychoanalysis – “That wasn’t a nuclear test! It was a call for help! Mr. Il needs to learn to seek the attention he craves in a less dysfunctional manner.”

If only we could get Kim Jong Il on Oprah perhaps he could find why his inner child has such unmet needs.

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Now to be fair there is undoubtedly an awful lot of behind the scenes effort to stem this crisis before war breaks out again.

We need to pray for great wisdom for our leadership in times like these.

But while we are on the subject of wisdom, could I offer a possible theory as to why the Cold War has revived on the Korean Peninsula?

In a word – it’s a distraction.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama at the White House.

Mr. Netanyahu made it abundantly clear that any progress toward peace in the Middle East had to begin by putting an end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

And if you are a regular reader of this space, you also know that the United States has strongly warned Israel not to take this matter into their own hands.

So if the United States has essentially said to Israel, “We will handle Iran. You stay on the sidelines.” – Iran now knows it has to find a way to keep the Americans from shutting down their atomic weapons program.

What better way for the Iranians to buy more time to perfect their nukes than to tie up the United States in a conflict on the other side of world?

How interesting that our old friend Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad made the following statement days before the Crisis in the Far East went from simmer to boil.

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TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has no missile or nuclear cooperation with North Korea, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday, after North Korea conducted a second and far more powerful nuclear test.

Former U.S. President George W. Bush branded both countries as part of an “axis of evil,” but Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful electricity generation. The West suspects its work has military aims.

“We don’t have any cooperation (with North Korea) in this field. We oppose the production, the amassing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

Scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, revered by many Pakistanis as the father of the country’s nuclear bomb, confessed to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya in 2004.

Military experts say Iran’s Shahab-3 missile is based on the North Korean Nodong missile. Tehran says Shahab-3 has a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), which defense analysts say would put Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf within range.

So if you are keeping score at home, Iran has no connections with North Korea – aside from their supplying them all the plans for their missile technology.

How interesting that when the world’s attention has been squarely focused on Iran, suddenly North Korea goes crazy.

If we have told the Israelis to put aside any attempt at preventing Iran from going nuclear, we had better be able to handle this threat ourselves.

And if the infamous “Axis of Evil” is working together to tie our hands, we had better think good and hard about giving Israel the go ahead to deal with what will be more than just a threat to their continued existence.

Joseph Biden’s prescient comments about the testing of our new president included the heads up that at first it won’t appear we are doing the right thing.

Let’s hope that the key words here are “at first”.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.” (Psalm 122:6-7)

Andy Rooney’s New Religion

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How did you celebrate Memorial Day?

For some, it’s little more than the three day weekend that kicks off the summer.

For others, especially those who have seen the horrors of war face to face, it is a time of deep reflection.

And such was the case on last Sunday’s edition of “60 Minutes”.

At the end of the broadcast America’s favorite crotchety uncle, Andy Rooney, shared his usual blend of semi-cynical philosophy.

But this time he included an unexpected twist.

“I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way – some new religion maybe – that takes war out of our lives. “

Few of us would argue that this world would be a much better place without the scourge of war.

But fewer still have ever come up with any practical suggestions on how to avoid it.

This week we have seen that if there is some way to bring peace to our planet, we’d better get after it and pronto.

North Korea has returned to some world class sabre rattling.

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Defying world powers, N. Korea conducts nuke test

Monday’s nuclear test, the North’s second after one in 2006, drew sharp international condemnation and U.S. President Barack Obama said Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program threatened international security.

The nuclear test raised concern about North Korea spreading its weapons to other countries and groups. The United States has accused it of trying try to sell nuclear know-how to Syria and others.

“Another risk is that the North Koreans might peddle some plutonium, or peddle some technology to terrorist groups, that would also be very, very serious,” Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the BBC.

But wait! There’s more!

Coming in a close second in the “Let’s Stress Out the World” competition was perennial threat to peace Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad rejects Western nuclear proposal

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to “freeze” its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue.

The comments by the conservative president, who is seeking a second term in a June 12 election, are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically.

Iran sends warships to Gulf of Aden – navy

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran has sent six warships to international waters, including the Gulf of Aden, to show its ability to confront any foreign threats, its naval commander said on Monday.

Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, quoted by the ISNA news agency, made the announcement five days after Iran said it test-fired a surface-to-surface missile with a range of 2,000 km (1,200 miles), putting Israel and U.S. bases in the area within reach.

Iran said on May 14 it had sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden to protect oil tankers from the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter against attacks by pirates but ISNA did not make clear whether they were among the six Sayyari talked about.

Iranian waters stretch along the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman. Iran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil is shipped, if it were attacked over its nuclear programme.

“Iran has dispatched six … warships to international waters and the Gulf of Aden region in an historically unprecedented move by the Iranian Navy,” Sayyari told a gathering of armed forces officials, IRNA reported.

It doesn’t take an expert in international affairs to determine that we are walking on increasingly thin ice.

When we stop to consider the danger presented by increasingly unstable regimes getting their hands on increasingly destructive weapons, as well as developing the capability of delivering them, it’s easy to see why people like Andy Rooney believe something radical must be done.

As radical as an avowed atheist like Rooney advocating a “new religion- that takes war out of our lives.”

Well as the old saying goes, there are two great tragedies in life – not getting what you want, and getting it.

The Bible tells us that at a time of intense global conflict, a powerful leader with just such a spiritual solution to the world’s problems will arise.

Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.

Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority.

And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast.

So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?” (Revelation 13:1-4)

There was a time when many people would scoff at the idea that one man could dominate our increasingly restive and conflict ridden world.

Who would be willing to surrender their national sovereignty to follow such a dictator?

And even if he did manage to bring peace and prosperity to a world teetering on the brink, would people in our brave new world actually worship him?

If he gets results, it sounds like Andy Rooney would be willing to sign up for his Sunday School class.

The eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee once made this telling observation:

“By forcing on mankind more and more lethal weapons, and at the same time making the World more and more interdependent economically, technology has brought mankind to such a degree of distress that we are ripe for the deifying of any new Caesar who might succeed in giving the World unity and peace.”

The arrival of  that new Caesar may be nearer than we think.

Ida Versus Squisho-saurus

Yesterday we were treated to the opening volley of a well financed media campaign.

The star maker machinery was no longer tooled up to promote the popular song, but a supposedly theory proving discovery.

The immaculately preserved skeleton of Ida, a 47 million-year-old primate found in Germany.

The unveiling of the fossilized remains of this  racoon sized lemur-like creature was accompanied by frenzied claims that make the Sham Wow guy look like a master of understatement.

“This specimen is like the Lost Ark for archeologists!”

“It is the scientific equivalent of the Holy Grail!”

“This changes everything!”

The groundswell of excitement over these claims has become so intense, the Google web site home page has even incorporated “Ida” into their logo.

Well, as we have seen, the actual specimen has a hard time keeping up with the hype.

And the increasingly dangerous marriage between scientific investigation and the pursuit of media exposure and the financial windfalls that go with it continues without missing a step.

But what if there really was a discovery that “changed everything” we were taught about our past?

What if a scientifically verifiable find came about that challenged to the core the notion that dinosaurs lived millions of years before man arrived on the scene?

What if scientists were confronted by the discovery not of fossil remains, but actual tissue of a creature that supposedly lived 85 million years ago?

Wouldn’t that “change everything”?

Well hold on to your copy of National Geographic.

In the late ’90’s,  paleontologist Dr. Mary Schweitzer created quite a stir when she revealed that an unfossilized piece of T-Rex leg bone had yielded red blood cells.

Cells and connective tissue can be clearly seen.

In 2005, a subsequent T-Rex find revealed the presence of soft tissue that appeared to be branching blood vessels with a substance inside that was able to be squeezed from them like toothpaste.

There is no doubt that fragile organic molecules like those harvested from these finds should have completely vanished in well under 65 million years.

In fact there were serious attempts to explain away Dr. Schweitzer’s findings by claiming that they were recent products of bacterial contamination.

After all, if we have dinosaur guts on our hands, the traditional view of the ancient age of dinosaurs would have to be completely reconsidered, if not dismissed.

Unfortunately for the purveyors of the previous paradigm, another radical discovery has been made.

Carl Weiland reports:

Now comes a further announcement by Schweitzer and others, in the prestigious journal Science, of substantial additional evidence to bolster her previous findings.7 The specimen on this occasion was a piece of fossil hadrosaur (duckbilled dinosaur) bone (Brachylophosaurus canadensis) regarded by evolutionary assumptions as being 80 million years old.

https://i2.wp.com/www.csm.org.uk/images/extras/Hadrosaur.jpgIn short, the researchers found evidence of “the same fibrous matrix, transparent, flexible vessels, and preserved microstructures she had seen in the T. rex sample”.8 Only this time they went to exceptional lengths to silence critics.

Critics said that her claims, which given the millions of years perspective are indeed “extraordinary”, required extraordinary evidence. But this is a cliché; in reality, they just require evidence, and that has been amply provided. Yet the critics demanded additional protein sequencing, super-careful handling to avoid claims of contamination, and confirmation from other laboratories. So Schweitzer and her team set about doing just that when they looked at the leg bone of this hadrosaur encased in sandstone.

Extraordinary measures were taken to keep the sample away from contamination until it reached the lab. They used an even more sophisticated and newer mass spectrometer, and sent the samples to two other labs for confirmation. They reported finding not just collagen, but evidence of two additional proteins—elastin and laminin. They also found structures uncannily resembling the cells found in both blood and bone, as well as cellular basement membrane matrix. And there were, once again, hints of hemoglobin, gleaned from applying hemoglobin-specific antibodies to the structures and seeing if the antibodies would bind to them.

There were eight collagen proteins alone discovered from the hadrosaur fossil, which revealed twice as many amino acids as the previous tyrannosaur specimen. These were compared with sequences from animals living today as well as from mastodon fossils and her T. rex sequences. The hadrosaur and tyrannosaur collagens were closer to each other than the others, and each were closer to chickens and ostriches than to crocodilians, for instance—results which would also confirm her previous identification of T. rex collagen.

The samples were identified as collagen by both sophisticated mass spectroscopy and antibody-binding techniques. They were also examined via both light and electron microscopy, which confirmed that they had the appearance of collagen as well.

As Schweitzer says, “These data not only build upon what we got from the T. rex, they take the research even further.”

So we now have confirmed collagen samples from a supposedly 85 million year old dinosaur.

How long does it take collagen to fall apart?

If completely sealed and kept at the freezing point – 3 million years.

At 10 degrees Celsius – 200,000 years.

At 20 degrees – 15,000 years.

Do the math, and then answer this question.

Which is more likely to rock an entire world?

A lemur with fingernails?

Or a testable case of what amounts to dinosaur road kill?

So why isn’t National Geographic clearing the decks for a prime time special on our duck billed destroyer of dino-myths?

Because it doesn’t fit the narrative.

After all, this is the year we are told to celebrate Darwin’s 200th birthday!

Imagine what would happen if school children were told we have dinosaur guts on our hands!

Why they might start to question the basic secularist assumptions undergirding Darwinism!

Like nothing created everything.

Or that raw matter and energy have somehow produced information all by themselves.

Or that historical science is nothing more than guess work and speculation peppered with words and phrases like “could be”, “perhaps” and “some scientists believe”.

Discoveries like an 85 million dollar Hadrosaur with inconveniently incompatible insides still intact barely merit a yawn from the mass media.

But for those who know God’s Word it is another encouraging example of a timeless truth.

There is no wisdom or understanding Or counsel against the LORD. (Proverbs 21:30)

The Missing Link? Ida Know About That

They used to say that only beauty was in the eye of the beholder.

Now apparently “scientific” breakthroughs have been added to the list.

Consider this hyperventilating headline that ran on The Sky News web site earlier today.

Scientists Unveil Missing Link In Evolution

Fossil

The search for a direct connection between humans and the rest of the animal kingdom has taken 200 years – but it was presented to the world today at a special news conference in New York.

The discovery of the 95%-complete ‘lemur monkey’ – dubbed Ida – is described by experts as the “eighth wonder of the world”.

They say its impact on the world of palaeontology will be “somewhat like an asteroid falling down to Earth”.

Researchers say proof of this transitional species finally confirms Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and the then radical, outlandish ideas he came up with during his time aboard the Beagle.

Sir David Attenborough said Darwin “would have been thrilled” to have seen the fossil – and says it tells us who we are and where we came from.

“This little creature is going to show us our connection with the rest of the mammals,” he said.

“This is the one that connects us directly with them.

“Now people can say ‘okay we are primates, show us the link’.

“The link they would have said up to now is missing – well it’s no longer missing.”

Wow!

Pretty extraordinary claims.

Looks like the creation/evolution debate is officially over, right?

So what was it about “Ida” that inspired all this champagne cork popping among the “goo to you by way of the zoo” set?

Scientists say Ida – squashed to the thickness of a beer mat by the immense passage of time – is the most complete primate fossil ever found.

With her human-like nails instead of claws, and opposable big toes, she is placed at the very root of human evolution when early primates first developed features that would eventually develop into our own.

Another important discovery is the shape of the talus bone in her foot, which humans still have in their feet millions of lifetimes later.

Not to interrupt a victory celebration – but first, a question.

What does the presence of nails and a talus bone in a lemur like fossil prove, exactly?

Consider what we actually know about this fossil find.

  • The well-preserved fossil (95 percent complete, including fossilized fur and more) is about the size of a raccoon and includes a long tail. It resembles the skeleton of a lemur (a small, tailed, tree-climbing primate). In no way does the fossil (see the picture, right) resemble a human skeleton.
  • The fossil was found in two parts by amateur fossil hunters in 1983. It eventually made its way through fossil dealers to the research team.
  • Ida has opposable thumbs, which the ABC News article states are “similar to humans’ and unlike those found on other modern mammals” (i.e., implying that opposable thumbs are evidence of evolution). Yet lemurs today have opposable thumbs (like all primates). Likewise, Ida has nails, as do other primates. And the talus bone is described as “the same shape as in humans,” despite the fact that there are other differences in the ankle structure.3
  • Unlike today’s lemurs (as far as scientists know), Ida lacks the “grooming claw” and a “toothcomb” (a fused row of teeth) In fact, its teeth are more similar to a monkey’s. These are minor differences easily explained by variation within a kind.

Underwhelmed?

You aren’t alone.

Even secular sources like the New York Times are beginning to question what all the hub bub is about.

But despite a television teaser campaign with the slogan “This changes everything” and comparisons to the moon landing and the Kennedy assassination, the significance of this discovery may not be known for years. An article to be published on Tuesday in PLoS ONE, a scientific journal, will report more prosaically that the scientists involved said the fossil could be a “stem group” that was a precursor to higher primates, with the caveat, “but we are not advocating this.”

All of this seems a departure from the normal turn of events, where researchers study their subject and publish their findings, and let the media chips fall where they may. But this campaign is only the latest example of the scientific media blockbuster, of which the National Geographic Society has become perhaps the most successful practitioner. It often gives grants to researchers, with National Geographic gaining the rights to produce television shows and magazine articles related to any discoveries.

And these kinds of publicity campaigns can backfire. In 2007, for example, the Discovery Channel ran a documentary called “The Lost Tomb of Jesus,” which had its share of detractors in the academic community.

So is “Ida” a history making discovery – or a histrionic offering from the hype machine?

Consider this justification of this full frontal media assault.“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”

Question for Dr. HurumDoes this mean we can we expect future evolutionary breakthroughs to be announced at the Super Bowl Half Time Show?

I can’t wait to see the Back Street Boys perform the “Trippin’ Wif a Talus, Opposable Thumb Review”.

The most interesting question the Ida incident poses in my mind has nothing to do with fossil strata and competing theories of origins.

It is one of human nature.

The hype says that now, for the first time, we have proof positive of Darwinian evolution.

That makes me wonder what the honorable David Attenborough would have said if we had asked him whether evolution was a proven fact, or if the missing link had already been found, oh say, last week?

Does saying that “Now the link is no longer missing!” mean that all the other times evolutionists have declared their theory fact they were, well, exaggerating for effect?

Engaging in wishful thinking?

Lying to us?

We report, you decide.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. (Romans 1:20-23)

The Second Greatest Threat to Israel

The much anticipated meeting between US President Barak Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now in the history books.

At first glance, it appears that it will be filed in the “Much ado about nothing” files.

No major policy declarations.

No major demands for Israeli concessions.

An all smiles press opportunity to see the heads of two nations seemingly on the same page.

But a closer examination of the statements made in the aftermath of these talks reveals a mind set that I believe represents the second greatest threat to the continuing existence of Israel.

On Iran, Obama declared a readiness to seek deeper international sanctions against the Islamic Republic if it shunned U.S. attempts to open negotiations on its nuclear program. Washington and many key allies contend Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

“The important thing is to make sure there is a clear timetable, at which point we say these talks don’t seem to be making any clear progress,” Obama said. “If that hasn’t taken place I think the international community will see that it’s … Iran itself that is isolating themselves.”

It was clear that Mr. Netanyahu’s position was that any meaningful peace was not possible until the Iranian nuclear issue was resolved.

But in an almost chicken and the egg response,  Mr. Obama insisted that progress on the Iranian issue wasn’t possible until the Israel/Palestinian issue was resolved.

And from a purely secular point of view, Obama’s position makes sense.

Let’s complete the so called two state solution.

This will cause the surrounding Arab nations to be able to focus on forming a united front against the growing Iranian threat in the region.

With this united international consensus in place, meaningful sanctions can be imposed on Iran.

The Iranians will see the error of their ways, abandon their nuclear ambitions and take full advantage of the offer to once again become a full partner in the global community.

And if the driving force behind Iran’s nuclear ambitons was secular or purely pragmatic, this would make sense.

But their is one fatal flaw in this line of thinking.

Iran’s motivation for pursuing the bomb is neither secular nor pragmatic.

It is entirely spiritual.

Both Iran’s ruling cleric the Ayatollah Kameni and it’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are devout believers in the imminent return of the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi.

The Mahdi is the rough equivalent of a Muslim messiah. And according to Shiite teachings, he will arrive when the world is in the midst of a global war between Islam and the infidels.

It will be the Mahdi who will supernaturally conquer the enemies of Islam and with his side kick Jesus will bring in a world wide caliphate where all will be governed by Sharia law.

To this end, the Iranian mullahs aren’t looking to win a war with the world, just start one that will usher in their messiah.

It is clear that the driving motivation behind the development of Iran’s nuclear capacity is not political or secular – it is to create on the ground the conditions necessary for their view of the End to be fulfilled.

And herein lies the danger to Israel.

Our government takes a relentlessly secularist view on virtually everything it touches, including foreign policy.

We tend to believe that all other nations think exactly the same way.

Faith is something personal, but should be absolutely insulated from practical decisions and policies.

A few years ago Christian artist Steve Taylor put out a song called “It’s a Personal Thing”.

In the song, he had a politician express these profound words:

“I believe for the betterment of all mankind

In the total separation of church and mind.”

This wall of separation between religion and real life is unsettlingly common in our culture.

At a local gathering of community leaders I heard a prominent man offer this definition of what it means to be a Christian businessman – “When I am in church I am a Christian. But when I go to work I am a businessman!”

This same mentality allows politicians who are at a Catholic Mass on Sunday, to glowingly endorse abortion providers on Monday.

“C’mon! All this religious stuff is good in it’s place, but let’s not get carried away with it. We have a real world to run!”

But what happens when a government arises that didn’t get this memo?

What happens when the essence of this religiously fervent government can be summed up as “a fanatical cult of death worshippers”?

All the good intentioned outreaches, and diplomatic initiatives, and international “Tut! Tut!”s will achieve is to allow this kind of regime to buy more time.

And assemble more centrifuges.

And process more weapons grade uranium.

And eventually construct a bomb they will feel religiously bound to use.

There is no doubt that a nation run by a genocidal mad man is the number one threat to Israel.

But a close second is making the secularly based assumption that its leadership thinks just like we do.

Quite simply – they don’t.

And quite sadly, they won’t.

We may very well be heading into times like that described in the book of Jeremiah:

We looked for peace, but no good came;
And for a time of health, and there was trouble!” (Jeremiah 8:15)

Netanyahu’s Visit: Raise or Call?

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One of the most telling trends in our culture today is the amazing interest in the game of poker.

Now for me personally, watching someone else play cards is almost as thrilling as sitting in on a discussion of the history of Swiss dentistry.

But I can understand why some find poker such a draw (if you’ll pardon the pun).

To be successful, you’ve got to know what you’ve got.

You have to have a pretty good idea of what the other guy has got.

And you’ve got to be shrewd enough to figure out if the other guy has the nerve to put what he’s got on the table.

Raise, call or fold.

I believe that within the next four days we will see a game of international poker unfold on the world scene.

And the stakes may very well be the continued existence of Israel, the continued march toward nuclear weapons capability in Iran, and very possibly the continued blessing of God upon the United States.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with US president Barak Obama at the White House.

The hand writing on the wall indicates that Mr. Obama will attempt to exert great pressure on Israel to accept and immediately implement the so called “two state solution” to the conflict with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu has countered by upping the ante, so to speak.

As we have detailed in this space, he has in essence told our government, “Fine. We will be willing to negotiate with the Palestinians, if you remove the threat of nuclear Iran from the world.”

Through the surrogate voice of King Abdullah of Jordan, the Obama administration has “called and raised the stakes” by saying, “Accept the two state solution, including partitioning Jerusalem, returning to pre-1967 borders and granting the so called right of return or face war with all 57 Muslim states within a year and a half.”

Now it appears that Mr. Netanyahu has turned the tables by intimating that he might take action against Iran before the Monday meeting with president Obama.

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Obama warns Netanyahu: Don’t surprise me with Iran strike

By Aluf Benn and Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondents

U.S. President Barack Obama has sent a message to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding that Israel not surprise the U.S. with an Israeli military operation against Iran. The message was conveyed by a senior American official who met in Israel with Netanyahu, ministers and other senior officials. Earlier, Netanyahu’s envoy visited Washington and met with National Security Adviser James Jones and with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and discussed the dialogue Obama has initiated with Tehran.

The message from the American envoy to the prime minister reveals U.S. concern that Israel could lose patience and act against Iran. It is important to the Americans that they not be caught off guard and find themselves facing facts on the ground at the last minute.

Obama did not wait for his White House meeting with Netanyahu, scheduled for next Monday, to deliver his message, but rather sent it ahead of time with his envoy.

It appears that this fast forward move of diplomacy may have been prompted by a fear in the White House that Netanyahu might order a pre-emptive strike against Iran ahead of the Monday meeting.

No doubt Mr. Netanyahu has realized that the new administration already considers him an “obstacle to peace”.

As such, the Monday meeting will likely be an arm twisting session, designed to cause Israel to capitulate to the demands of the Arab world.

At that moment both sides will have to “put their cards on the table.”

Unfortunately, if that reveals that our nation has taken the side of those who hate God’s chosen people we will find ourselves on the wrong side of one of God’s most famous promises.

Speaking of the children of Israel the Lord said:

I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)

Please be praying for our leadership in Washington that we will not deny and betray not only a steadfast ally, but also a people God loves in a special way.