“Nice Country, Vlad. Shame If Somethin’ Would happen To It.”

The news out of the Middle East, to put it in Lewis Carrol terms, is getting “curiouser and curiouser”.

The case for serious, united, international action against a country that is making North Korea look like an oasis of reason and restraint is unavoidably clear.

Iran built nuclear site shielded from air attack

TEHRAN, Iran – In an unusually frank disclosure, Iran‘s nuclear chief said Tuesday the country’s new uranium enrichment site was built for maximum protection from aerial attack: carved into a mountain and near a military compound of the powerful Revolutionary Guard.

Iran’s revelation that it covertly built a second uranium enrichment plant has raised international concerns that other secret nuclear sites might exist as well.

Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi’s statement came with a hard-line message ahead of crucial talks this week with the U.S. and other world powers — Iran will not give up its ability to produce nuclear fuel.

The details emerging about the secret site near the holy city of Qom have only heightened suspicions Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, despite repeated denials.

If you are keeping score at home, Iran has secretly built a nuclear facility into the side of a mountain, in back of a major military installation that is too small to do anything but enrich uranium for weaponizing purposes.

Suspicious?

As noted 20th Century philosopher Bugs Bunny would put it, “Ehhh. COULD be!”

It gets worse.

Pictures of the day: 28 September 2009

Iran's newly disclosed nuclear fuel facility near Qom, Iran, is pictured in this GeoEye satellite photograph

“This site is at the base of a mountain and was selected on purpose in a place that would be protected against aerial attack. That’s why the site was chosen adjacent to a military site,” Salehi said.

“It was intended to safeguard our nuclear facilities and reduce the cost of an active defense system. If we had chosen another site, we would have had to set up another aerial defense system.”

He said Iran is willing to have a general discussion about nuclear technology when it meets Thursday in Geneva with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. But he insisted Iran will not give up its “right” to uranium enrichment, which produces fuel that can be used for both nuclear energy or nuclear weapons.

The nuclear facility, named Meshkat or Lantern, is located next to a military compound of the Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force, equipped with an air defense system, Salehi said.

“This is a contingency plant. It is one of the pre-emptive measures aimed at protecting our nuclear technology and human work force. It is a small version of Natanz,” he said, referring to Iran’s other nuclear facility in central Iran.

“This is to show that the Islamic Republic of Iran won’t allow its nuclear activities to stop under any circumstances even for a moment.”

Pretty brash and bald faced stuff.

So how will the international community respond to this threat?

Israel has portrayed the latest disclosures as proof of its long-held assertion that Iran seeks nuclear weapons and is a strategic threat. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that Israel is keeping all its options open, suggesting a pre-emptive military strike on nuclear facilities is still a possibility.

However, some Israeli analysts believe the disclosure of the new nuclear facility could actually put off an Israeli strike because it increases the chances the international community will impose harsher sanctions.

“If there ever was a thought of going with a military option, it’s been put off,” said Ephraim Kam, the deputy director of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of National Security Studies.

“Iran was caught lying again, it’s clearly moving toward becoming a nuclear power,” he said. “Now the Americans are better able to try to persuade the Europeans, and even the Russians, to go for tougher sanctions.”

“Sanctions! That’s it!

We’ll hit Iran in the pocketbook where it really hurts!”

Two questions.

Would even harsh sanctions deter Iran from developing nuclear weapons?

No.

To pretend that the leadership of Iran cares even the slightest bit for the economic well being of its citizens requires quite a bit of imagination, especially after the brutal repression of the so called “Green Uprising” following the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The Grand Ayatollah Khameni and his associates are committed devotees of what has been called a death loving, apocalyptic cult that believes world war is the way to usher in their Muslim messiah.

They believe that all they have to do is hang in long enough to launch their kamakazie-like assault and trust the 12th Imam to take care of the rest.

Sanctions are only effective if a government actually cares about its people and wants to thrive and prosper in a secular sense.

Neither of these impulses fit the picture in Iran

Second question – Will harsh sanctions ever be realized?

No.

For two reasons.

Following each and every outrage perpetrated by the Iranian government a predictable pattern has emerged.

Israel threatens to take action.

The United States tells the Israelis to wait and let diplomacy work.

The UN Security Council takes up the idea of isolating or sanctioning Iran.

Russia and China promptly veto the motion.

Why Do Russia and China defend this rogue nation?

In China’s case – here’s your answer.

Chinese oil demand fueling Iranian defiance

Despite tough talk from Washington, China needs Iran’s oil too much

to support sanctions that might actually bite.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Don’t look for Iran to throw up the white flag anytime soon.

The Obama administration is scrambling to tighten trade sanctions against Iran after the disclosure last week that Tehran was hiding a heavily fortified facility that many believe is designed to make material for nuclear weapons.

But the kind of sanctions that would really hit Iran’s economy – sanctions against its energy industry – are thought to be off the table because China and other nations are too reliant on Iran’s oil.

“They look to Iran as a major source of future oil supplies,” said James Placke, a senior associate at Cambridge Energy Research Associates who specializes in the Middle East. “They’d have to go through a substantial policy reversal, and I’d be surprised if they did that.”

China looks to Iran as a major source of supply for their burgeoning energy needs.

And no doubt, Iran provides the oil at a Premium Customer Discount in return for their help with the UN Security Council.

Russia has more oil than it knows what to do with.

Why then, do they go to bat for the Mullahs?

Because the Mullahs have called off the Islamic terror attacks that were threatening to topple the Putin dominated government.

Less than five years ago, Muslim terrorists from Chechnya took over a school in Beslan in the North Caucasas Region of the Russian Federation.

Over 1,100 hostages were taken, including 777 school children.

334 people were massacred, including 186 students.

This was only one of a regular bombardment of Russia with increasingly bold and effective acts of terror.

From airliners blown up in flight, to massive casualties in apartment explosions in Moscow, the Putin government looked powerless to deal with the threat.

That is, until the Russians turned over a new leaf in diplomatic and military cooperation with – you guessed it – Iran.

It’s amazing how much peace one can buy with, oh, say, a nuclear power plant, or a state of the art air defense system or two.

Not to mention a reliable no vote on the UN Security Council.

In essence, the Russians are victims of the classic “protection racket”.

No doubt in the tradition of Don Corleone, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said,  “Nice country, you’ve got here Vlad. Too bad if somethin’ happened to it.”

Nothing personal. It’s just business.

And so the dithering continues.

Strongly worded statements of shock and dismay.

Offers of “meaningful dialogue”.

Meanwhile, the centrifuges keep churning away at Qom, and who knows where else in Iran.

The fact that immediate actions were not voted on in an emergency session of the Security Council is a pretty good indicator that sanctions will not even be given the chance to work.

The only possible road block between Iran and a nuclear weapon seems to be either Divine intervention, or a full blown assault by Israel.

Maybe it will be both.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces.” (Psalm 122:5-7)

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Matthew 24 – A Heavenly Heads Up

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It has been said that the Bible is more relevant than even tomorrow’s newspaper.

Why?

Because in the Bible we get in touch with a “God’s eye view” of life – the past, the present and yes, the future all portrayed in perfect clarity.

And in some places in the Word, we see all three presented at once.

Consider a passage that while written in the past, tells us quite a bit about what is happening in our present, with a sobering, yet ultimately hopeful view of our future.

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24:3-8)

As we have pointed out before in this space, the term sorrows can also be translated as “birth pains”.

Like the pain that increases in both frequency and intensity as the birth of a child approaches, so Jesus taught that there would be painful world wide catastrophes that would follow the same pattern as the time of His return would draw near.

Just for curiosity sake, lets take a look at this heavenly heads up and compare it with events that have taken place since our last Scott’s Blog post of 9/25.

And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”

In his speech to the UN General Assembly, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad peppered his remarks with various references to what he believes will be the Muslim messiah, the Imam Mahdi.

“There will come a time when justice will prevail across the globe and every single human being will enjoy respect and dignity. That will be the time when mankind’s path to moral and spiritual perfection will be opened and his journey to God and the manifestation of God’s Divine Names will come true. Mankind should excel to represent God’s knowledge and wisdom, His compassion and benevolence, His justice and fairness, His power and art, and His kindness and forgiveness. These will all come true under the rule of the Perfect Man, the last Divine source on earth, Hazrat Mahdi (pbuh), an offspring of the Prophet of Islam, who will re-engage, and Jesus Christ (pbuh) and other noble men will accompany him in the accomplishment of this grand universal mission. And this is the belief in Entezar: waiting patiently for the Imam to return, waiting with patience for the rule of goodness and the governance of the best, which is a universal human notion and which is a source of nations’ hope for the betterment of the world.

Faith in a messiah figure so great that Jesus Himself would be merely one of his proteges?

False Christs and false prophets? Check.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

The world being drawn to the brink of war, with each day presenting another prediction of inevitable catastrophe?

Joel Rosenberg provides the following blow by blow description of the rising possibility of nuclear war in the Middle East.

Events are moving so quickly in the epicenter it can be difficult to keep track of, much less understand the big picture. So here it is in a sentence: An apocalpytic storm is forming over the Middle East.

Consider the data points:

  1. Iran has just been caught secretly building a 2nd uranium enrichment facilityon a military base in the religious capital of Iran, a city known as Qom;
  2. A growing number of Western military analysts say the design of this new facility — and its secrecy, and location — clearly indicates it was being built by Iran for the purpose of creating nuclear weapons;
  3. Iran has thus been caught in its third lie since 2002 with regards to building secret nuclear development facilities in Natanz, Arak, and now Qom;
  4. Ahmadinejad refused four times during his NBC News interview last week to rule out the building of nuclear weapons;
  5. A.Q. Khan — the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development program – has just admitted selling advanced nuclear weapons blueprints years ago to Iran for millions of dollars;
  6. The latest IAEA report indicates Iran has enough low-enriched uranium (LEU) to produce enough high-enriched uranium (HEU) by 2010 to produce two nuclear weapons;
  7. Iran has just spent the weekend testing “its most advanced missiles” capable of reaching Israel;

Add to this list another troubling development revealed today:

SAUDIS WILL LET ISRAEL BOMB

IRAN NUCLEAR SITE

Story ImageMossad chief Meir Dagan

INTELLIGENCE chief Sir John Scarlett has been told that Saudi Arabia is ready to allow Israel to bomb Iran’s new nuclear site.

The head of MI6 discussed the issue in London with Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Saudi officials after British intelligence officers helped to uncover the plant, in the side of a mountain near the ancient city of Qom.

The site is seen as a major threat by Tel Aviv and Riyadh. Details of the talks emerged after John Bolton, America’s former UN ambassador, told a meeting of intelligence analysts that “Riyadh certainly approves” of Israel’s use of Saudi airspace.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband acknowledged that the danger of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East was “particularly potent” and refused to rule out military action altogether but he insisted: “We are 100 per cent focused on a diplomatic solution.”

Wars and rumors of wars? Check.

And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

This just in from the South Pacific:

At least 14 dead as tsunami hits Samoas

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa – Towering tsunami waves spawned by a powerful earthquake swept ashore on two South Pacific island chains early Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and leaving dozens of others missing at devastated National Park Service facilities.

Hampered by power and communications outages, officials struggled to assess the casualties and damage. The quake, with a magnitude between 8.0 and 8.3, struck around dawn about midway between Samoa and American Samoa.

Increasingly intense natural disasters? Check.

There is a compelling case to be made that we are right in the middle of a biblical birth pain.

So what do we do?

Jesus also covered that base in Matthew 24:

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.  Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42-44)

Jesus tells us to be ready.

What does that mean?

It doesn’t mean to go the Chicken Little route.

It doesn’t mean to run up your credit cards and hope the Anti-Christ will have to pay them off.

It doesn’t mean to convert all your assets into gold, buy seven years of canned food and hunker down in your basement.

It means to live each day that we’ve been given in a way that honors the love relationship we have been given with God.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

The best response to the signs of the times is to anticipate Jesus’ return like well loved children look forward to the sound of the garage door going up when their Daddy comes home at the end of the day.

If we have that kind of hope within us it will motivate us to say no to our destructive and selfish impulses  because we are saying yes to something, some One better.

Have you said yes to a real relationship with Jesus?

Netanyahu’s Question: Asked and Answered

The just completed meeting of the UN General Assembly featured speakers from every corner of the world.

The rhetoric ranged from silly (Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad’s tribute to the Shi’a messiah) to the slumber inducing (Moamar Qaddafi’s 100 plus minute love affair with the sound of his own voice).

But there was one powerful defining moment.

There have been memorable statements that have defined an era of history as it was about to unfold.

Winston Churchill’s rebuke of Neville Chamberlain:

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You have chosen dishonor and will have war.”

John F. Kennedy’s line in the sand:

“There are those who say that communism is the wave of the future..Let them come to Berlin.”

As events unfold in the Middle East, Benjamin Netanyahu’s challenge to the world – “Have you no shame?” – may occupy a similar place.

Unfortunately, Netanyahu’s question has already been answered.

Consider this latest episode of children’s “educational” television from the very people Israel is being pressured to make territorial concessions to in exchange for promises of peace.

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It would be one thing if the UN was merely oblivious to the danger presented to Israel by such hate filled fanaticism. But it is quite another to see the same murderous rage that fueled the fires of the Holocaust on display, and blame the victim.

Why do the nations rage,
And the people plot a vain thing?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
And the rulers take counsel together,
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
“Let us break Their bonds in pieces
And cast away Their cords from us.”

He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;
The Lord shall hold them in derision.
Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,
And distress them in His deep displeasure:
“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:1-6)

Check out an excellent analysis of Netanyahu’s speech at Joel Rosenberg’s Flashtraffic Blog.

Mahmoud’s No Good, Very Bad, Terrible, Rotten Day

In the SRL Files under Mahmoud’s No Good Very Bad Day:

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It’s hard to find humor in the simmering show down between Israel and Iran these days.

But if the following event isn’t actually funny, it is at the very least ironic.

And maybe a sign of things to come.

The DEBKAfile web site reports the following eyebrow raising incident today:

Iran loses its only AWACS as Ahmadinejad threatens the world

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

September 23, 2009, 12:20 PM (GMT+02:00)

Iran's AWACS destroyed in parade collisionIran’s AWACS destroyed in parade collision

Up above a big military parade in Tehran on Tuesday, Sept. 22, as Iranian president declared Iran’s armed forces would “chop off the hands” of any power daring to attack his country, two air force jets collided in mid-air. One was Iran’s only airborne warning and control system (AWACS) for coordinating long-distance aerial operations, DEBKAfile‘s military and Iranian sources disclose.

The disaster was a serious blow for Iran, leaving its air force and air and missile defenses without “electronic eyes” for surveillance of the skies around its borders.

As if the timing of this “accident” wasn’t interesting enough, consider the final resting place of the wreckage.

Dubbed “Simorgh” (a flying creature of Iranian fable which performs wonders in mid-flight), the AWACS’ appearance, escorted by fighter jets, was to have been the climax for the Iranian Air force’s fly-past over the parade. Instead, it collided with one of escorting planes, a US-made F-5E, and both crashed to the ground in flames. All seven crewmen were killed.

Eye witnesses reported that the flaming planes landed on the mausoleum burial site of the Islamic revolution’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, a national shrine. According to Western observers, no distress signals came from either cockpit indicating that the collision and explosions were sudden and fast.

An accident?

An amazing piece of espionage by the Mossad?

A direct intervention from the God of Abrham, Isaac and Jacob?

We report, you decide.

Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge,
Who eat up my people as they eat bread,
And do not call upon God?
There they are in great fear
Where no fear was,
For God has scattered the bones of him who encamps against you;
You have put them to shame,
Because God has despised them. (Psalm 53:4-5)

Pride and Prejudice: The Tehran Edition

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The UN General Assembly is meeting this week in Turtle Bay, New York.

This means that our tax dollars will be wisely invested in providing security for a motley crew of the world’s leading tyrants and human rights abusers.

One of the more luminous personalities that has combined those tow traits into an art form is Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejhad.

As a warm up for his appearance at the UN this week, Mahmoud wowed crowds in Tehran with what can only be called his own version of “Pride and Prejudice”.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad proud of Holocaust denial

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s president said Monday he is proud to stoke international outrage with his latest remarks denying the Holocaust as he heads for the United Nations this week — showing he is as defiant as ever while his country comes under greater pressure to curtail its nuclear program.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes the world stage with a speech Wednesday to the U.N. General Assembly. He appears intent on showing he has not been weakened by three months of turmoil at home, where the pro-reform opposition has staged dramatic protests claiming Ahmadinejad’s victory in June presidential elections was fraudulent.

He stoked the fires ahead of the visit with new comments casting doubt on the Holocaust. Asked about widespread condemnation of such remarks, Ahmadinejad said Monday: “The anger of the world’s professional killers is (a source of) pride for us,” according to state news agency IRNA.

During a speech Friday, he questioned whether the Holocaust was “a real event” and called it a pretext used by Jews to trick the West into backing the creation of Israel. He said the Jewish state was created out of “a lie and a mythical claim.”

The United States branded the speech “hateful.” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Monday that Ahmadinejad “yet again shames the great tradition of the noble Iranian people” and has chosen “the violent repression of Iranians over a policy of friendship and cooperation that would have promoted their welfare and their honor.”

Although Mahmoud will get the chance to rub shoulders with equally heavy handed despots like the ruling junta from Myanmar and Moammar Qadaffi, the thing that makes him special is his unique ability to act upon his twisted vision of reality with potentially world shattering results.

To whit:

Iran may have enough enriched uranium to build a

bomb, US warns

The US warned yesterday that Iran might already have enough enriched uranium to build a bomb as Tehran defied sanctions threats and stuck to its nuclear programme.

The country has dominated a week-long meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under way in Vienna as the deadline for President Obama’s offer of talks draws near. According to the latest American assessment, outlined by Glyn Davies, the American Ambassador to the IAEA, the Iranian nuclear enrichment programme is bringing it closer to a “dangerous and destabilising possible breakout capacity”. “Iran is now either very near, or in possession already, of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, if the decision were made to further enrich it to weapons-grade,” Mr Davies told governors of the IAEA.

To put this in terms straight from the television cop shows, Iran’s mullocracy now has both the motive and the means to carry out its genocidal threats against Israel.

All it lacks now is opportunity.

There is no doubt that Ahmadinejhad’s rhetoric is frightening.

But he doesn’t have the market cornered on declarations direct from the lunatic fringe.

There is no doubt that Israel will not sit patiently by while the weapons of their mass destruction are completed in Tehran.

Plans have been designed and even war games to practice these plans have already been conducted by the IDF.

Which prompted former Carter administration National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brezinski to add these helpful remarks:

Brezinski Calls for Obama to Shoot Down Israeli Jets; “A Liberty in Reverse”

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In a little noticed interview with the Daily Beast (presumably little noticed because serious people don’t read the Daily Beast), Zbigniew Brzezinski suggests that Barack Obama do more than just refuse to support an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear sites — the American president must give the order to shoot down Israeli aircraft as they cross Iraqi airspace:

DB: How aggressive can Obama be in insisting to the Israelis that a military strike might be in America’s worst interest?

Brzezinski: We are not exactly impotent little babies. They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?

DB: What if they fly over anyway?

Brzezinski: Well, we have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not. No one wishes for this but it could be a Liberty in reverse.

Now there’s a mind blowing turn of events.

A former National Security Adviser who was part of our current administration’s transition team envisions us confronting Israeli jets for the high crime of attempting to deal a major set back to a maniacal regime’s WMD dreams?

Say it ain’t so, Zbigniew!

This week’s proceedings at the UN merit our close attention.

Will it be an opportunity to galvanize the support of the Security Council for meaningful sanctions against Iran?

Or will it be another opportunity to blame Israel for the fanatical ambitions of tyrants ad dictators in the region?

Pray for the former.

But don’t be surprised at the latter.

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)

Dueling Countdowns?

Kanye West, Taylor Swift

We are currently enjoying a blissful break from real crisis.

How can you tell?

Check the headlines.

When the dominant stories of the day  involve the censure of a scene stealing congressman at a presidential address and/or the antics of a scene stealing entertainer at some self congratulatory awards show, you know that all is well with the world.

At least for the moment.

But it does appear that we may be on the edge of a radical change.

No matter how distracted we might be by the scandalous and dramatic, the truly dangerous patiently waits for its entrance cue on the world stage.

In fact, there are two potentially catastrophic events that are currently in full countdown mode.

Item #1 –

ANALYSIS / Clock ticking for Iran as Israel appears ready for strike

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This month will mark a critical juncture in Iran’s race for nuclear capability. The timetable is getting ever shorter: Most Western intelligence services share the assessment that over the course of 2010, Iran will accumulate sufficient fissionable material to produce two or three nuclear bombs. If the Iranians succeed in dispersing this material among a large number of secret sites, it will reduce the likelihood that the project can be stopped.

So, the moment of truth will arrive at some point between the end of 2009 and the middle of 2010: Should Iran be attacked? American experts agree that this would involve an Israeli strike. It is very unlikely that Obama will be the one dispatching American planes to Natanz.

Iran is likely to respond to an Israeli attack by opening fronts nearby, via Hezbollah from Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. Three years after the Second Lebanon War and at the end of a broad process of learning lessons from that conflict, the IDF is quite confident of its ability to deal with Hezbollah. At the same time, it’s clear that Israel will be subjected to extensive rocket attacks that can be expected to cover most of the country.

It is clear that there is little personal chemistry between President Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This would mean that Israel could not count on US military support during such a situation.

Israel will then be tasked with not only taking out a large portion of Iran’s nuclear assets, but also damaging their naval and air forces so as to prevent a closing of the Straights of Hormuz.

A tall order? You bet.

The possibility of Iran activating sleeper cells to carry out 9-11 style attacks on the US and Europe?

Likely.

Which brings us to countdown item #2-

Terror Probe Spurs Raid by Police in New York

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Authorities executed search warrants and seized evidence early Monday at locations in the Queens borough of New York City as part of a terrorism investigation, according to a senior official familiar with the case.

This person said some counterterrorism officials were concerned that the individual at the center of the investigation may have had access to, or an interest in acquiring, materials that could be used for a chemical, biological or radiological device. One aspect of the probe involves whether the person had some contact or connections with suspicious individuals overseas, the official said.

This story would be sobering enough, if not for the following facts:

The “person of interest” at the center of the investigation got away.

The “person of interest” has been identified as an Afgan known as “Najibullah” who has claimed to have trained with Al Qaeda.

The “person of interest” has been under FBI surveillance in Colorado as part of a potential terrorist cell with high ambitions –

“The FBI is seriously spooked about these guys planning another 9/11,” a former senior counterterrorism official told the News. “This is not some … FBI informant-driven case. This is the real thing.”…

And apparently, the investigation was blown by some heavy handed tactics on the part of authorities in New York.

Federal agents working with the Joint Terrorism Task Force asked their NYPD counterparts to discreetly gather intel on a former Queens resident believed to have terrorist ties and bomb-making know-how.

Rather than slyly contact their list of sources and informants the NYPD canvassed the suspect’s old Flushing neighborhood and flashed around his picture.

Eventually the imam of the Masjid Hazrat Abu Bakr Islamic Center learned of the investigation and contacted the man’s family to let them know that he was subject of a law enforcement inquiry.

The suspect, identified only as “Najibullah,” then flew home to Denver.

The feds “are mad about it,” the source said.

It is clear that one hallmark of Al Qaeda is their love for anniversaries. It was eight years between the first World Trade Center bombing and the attacks of 9-11.

It has now been eight years since 9-11.

The clock is ticking.

Whether it is a case of domestic terrorism locally, or the ignition of a war globally it is clear that inevitable times of crisis are looming on the horizon.

So what do we do about it?

It has been said that the surest way to forfeit personal peace is to try to control things that are out of our hands.

Last time I checked, Benjamin Netanyahu wasn’t calling me for advice on dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat.

Homeland Security hasn’t been e-mailing me for suggestions on dealing with sleeper cells either.

We have no control over these events.

But we do have control over how we choose to live our lives in light of these events.

We can take reports of national and international peril and use them as a call to prayer.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

We can take the increasing sense of anxiety evident in our society as an opportunity to share with people the good news that God loves them and has a plan for their lives.

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:  Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. (II Timothy 4:1-2)

We can use uncertain times as a springboard to a closer and more personal experience of God’s love in our own lives.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1-4)

I have been asked both on the radio and on personal conversations, “What would you do if you knew the world was going to end tomorrow?”

I think the best answer is, “I would walk hand in hand with the Lord today.”

When Prophecy Gets Personal

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One of the questions I am often asked either on Scott Richards Live or after a service goes something like this:

“Are there any predictions regarding the End Times that we see being fulfilled today?”

And certainly there are a number of heaven sent “Head’s up!” situations in our day:

-Israel being miraculously reborn and preserved as a nation in her historic homeland.

– The alignment of nations, including the unprecedented alliance between Russia and Iran, predicted in Ezekiel 38.

– The rise of  the first stages of “Revived Rome” and the strong push toward a single world monetary system are eerily in line with the prophetic picture the Bible paints of life in the End Times.

But the more our culture moves along, the more I see signs of another Last Days prediction being fulfilled before our eyes – this one far more personal  and potentially close to home than almost any other.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,  unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,  always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (II Timothy 3:1-7)

I know. I know.

The obvious objection is, haven’t people always behaved like this?

Why is this prediction so relevant to our time as opposed to any other?

There is no doubt that fallen people tend to behave in fallen ways. The annals of history are littered with accounts of over the top examples of people living to selfishly stimulate their nerve endings.

You could look it up.

But what makes our day different isn’t the presence of evil, but its pervasive nature.

You don’t have to go looking for sin, it comes looking for you.

Check out the messages we are bombarded with through the media.

Soft core pornography is available 24/7 – and that’s just on the ads from the pharmaceutical companies!

But if you want to get deeper into destructive, God dishonoring behavior, the internet is always happy to oblige.

Consider this “service” provided by a company called AshleyMadison.com.

National Review Online’s Kathryn Jean Lopez provides the description:

To the soundtrack of a snoring woman in bed with a man, the announcer says: “Most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman.”

The narrator continues: “But not when it’s every night. For the rest of our lives.”

The husband gets out of bed and heads, presumably, to the computer. We see a cartoonish wedding picture. We are made aware of what this restless spouse must be craving: an online-dating site for those who are married but itching for something carnally more, with someone else.

“Life is short. Have an affair” goes the motto for this no-frills facilitator.

And lest we think this “service is just for men:

And in this commercial cheating world, it’s not just the man who’s pining away. It’s equality, baby. Another ad on the same night featured an exaggerated boorish bore of a man and his wife in a restaurant on their anniversary. He takes a phone call. She is pleased to make eye contact with a leering rake at the bar. “When divorce isn’t an option” is how Ashley Madison seeks to make this sale.

In both scenarios, missing was any sense of shame.

I’m not sure if even Paul himself realized just how vividly his words would be realized in our day:

For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts..

So what can we learn from all this?

There is no doubt that we live in a day when the phrase “perilous times” seems like an understatement – especially in our spiritual lives.

But if forewarned is forearmed, we can take practical steps to avoid this kind of soul destroying danger.

We can guard our internet intake.

We can foster relationships with other believers who can keep us accountable and tell us the truth even when we don’t want to hear it.

But the best way to make certain we don’t end up going the way of these “perilous times” is not by saying “no” to awful things like AshleyMadison.com.

But by saying “Yes” to something better – a living relationship with Jesus.

When we fall in love it changes the way we live.

For instance, I gave up dating when the Lord lead me into the relationship I have with my wife, Pam.

The reason I did that wasn’t because I read the Arizona Revised Statutes concerning marital obligations.

It was because I loved her so much I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt her.

In fact, I only wanted to do those things that would cause me to be a blessing in her life.

I wasn’t saying “No” to the single lifestyle. I was saying “Yes” to something better.

The same is true in our difficult days.

Cultivate that love relationship God offers us in Christ.

Set aside time to read His Word, to pour out your heart before Him in prayer.

Be around others that love the Lord and can remind us of what a loser the way of this world really is.

Things are tough these days. The Bible says they will only get tougher.

But be encouraged -the darker the night, the more His light shines.